GM has filed a patent application for a new olfactory communication system that is designed to generate aroma-based notifications for vehicle passengers.
The GM patent filing has been assigned patent number US 11,738,685 B1 with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), as was published on August 29th, 2023. The patent was originally filed on June 27th, 2022. Two Michigan-based engineers are listed as the inventors, including Jacob Alan Bond and Joseph F. Szczerba.
The patent describes a system that emits an aroma in the interior of a vehicle to provide the occupants with a notification of some sort. The system includes one or more controllers which execute instructions to receive a message that a certain event is occurring. To indicate that the event is occurring to passengers, the controllers will emit a custom aroma inside the cabin, with the custom aroma tied to the specific event in question.
While custom notification systems have been made for several other senses, such as sight, sound, and touch, notifying passengers via a custom aroma is a novel new way to accomplish similar goals. An aroma-based notification system could also prove beneficial in ways where other systems may be lacking. For example, individuals who are hearing impaired and visually impaired may not receive notifications from sound or visual alerts. In addition, an aroma-based approach to notifications may be less annoying than continually buzzing sound alerts or flashing visual alerts, and potentially less distracting for drivers as well.
Some of the potential events listed by the patent as candidates for aroma-based notifications include an upcoming appointment, such as a doctor’s visit or lunch date, an anniversary, weather conditions, or even notification that vehicle maintenance may be required. Aroma-based notifications may also be used in conjunction with drive-thru restaurants to provide occupants with a preview of certain menu items, or to symbolize a specific geographic area through which the vehicle is driving.
Whether or not this system will see actual use remains to be seen, but either way, it’s certainly an interesting idea.