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Serving Smells: GM files patent for aroma-based in-vehicle notifications

Toronto, Ontario – Vehicles appeal to many of the senses in order to direct a driver’s attention, but smell is not one of them…yet. In a recently released patent, GM displays a new olfactory-based communication system designed to generate tailored smells for passengers. 

The patent application, originally filed on June 27, 2022 with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is credited to Michigan-based engineers, Jacob Alan Bond and Joseph F. Szczerba. 

 It lists the invention as including “an aroma diffuser that emits aromas into an interior cabin of the vehicle and a controller in electronic communication with the aroma diffuser.” After receiving a specific input, “the one or more controllers determine a customized aroma based on the specific event, where the customized aroma creates an odor that informs the one or more occupants of the specific event. The one or more controllers instruct the aroma diffuser to emit the customized aroma into the interior cabin of the vehicle.”

Some of these specific events outlined by the patent include aroma-based notifications for upcoming doctor’s appointments or other personal meetings, potential driving conditions and vehicle maintenance. 

The patent also suggests that aroma-based notifications could be beneficial in tandem with commercial ventures such as offering drivers a ‘scent-sample’ of a restaurant’s menu when they are going through a drive thru. 

Aroma-based vehicle notifications are also highlighted as being potentially beneficial for drivers who are hearing or visually impaired and who do not already benefit from sound or sight-based indicators. 

Still, despite possible benefits, the patent has a long way to go before manufacturers get even a whiff of it in automotive production. 

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