You know that scene in "Pulp Fiction" where Samuel L. Jackson is chowing down on a Big Kahuna burger? Now imagine watching the movie and being able to smell — or even taste — that big, greasy, fast-food delight.
The Sony Corporation has filed for a patent that is the precursor to developing a real-life "Matrix" that could let you smell, touch and even taste movies and video games.
New Scientist magazine recently revealed that the media giant has patented an idea that would use non-invasive ultrasound pulses to transmit "sensory experiences" directly to the brain, modifying the firing patterns of certain neurons. This could pave the way for movies and games you could taste and touch in the privacy of your brain. According to the patent application, it might even allow blind people to "see" and deaf people to "hear."
Don't get too excited, though — Sony spokesperson Elizabeth Boukis said that at this point, the patent, applied for in 2000 and updated as recently as last year, is just that, an idea. "Every time you submit a patent you have to give a description and that's all this is at this point," she said. "This is not anything Sony has invested any research in, but it's based on an idea of something that they may think about in the future."
While the project is not currently being pursued, the concept of living a Neo-like existence has gotten some scientists excited.
"I looked at it and found it plausible," German neuroscientist Niels Birbaumer told New Scientist. Birbaumer has invented a thought-translation device that lets people control certain mechanisms via brain waves.
For now, anyway, Sony's patent has at least two convenient advantages over the movie Matrix: It doesn't require a phone booth or a jack in the back of your neck.
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