(19)
(11)EP 3 653 231 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
20.05.2020 Bulletin 2020/21

(21)Application number: 19207791.5

(22)Date of filing:  07.11.2019
(51)Int. Cl.: 
A61L 9/12  (2006.01)
G06K 19/00  (2006.01)
A61L 9/14  (2006.01)
H04B 5/00  (2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
KH MA MD TN

(30)Priority: 12.11.2018 JP 2018212000

(71)Applicant: Aromajoin Corporation
Kyoto 619-0237 (JP)

(72)Inventors:
  • NGUYEN, Quang Van
    Soraku-gun, Kyoto 619-0237 (JP)
  • KIM, Dong Wook
    Soraku-gun, Kyoto 619-0237 (JP)

(74)Representative: Treeby, Philip David William et al
Maucher Jenkins 26 Caxton Street
London SW1H 0RJ
London SW1H 0RJ (GB)

  


(54)AROMA CARTRIDGE AND AROMA DISPLAY


(57) An aroma cartridge includes: a housing to be loaded to a cartridge loading section of an aroma display, having a hollow portion to store a scent source therein, and a scent passage for emitting scent from the scent source in the hollow portion to the outside; and a near field communication tag attached to an outer surface of the housing for transmitting, by near field communication, to a near field communication reader, data identifying the scent corresponding to the type of scent source contained in the aroma cartridge.




Description

FIELD OF THE INVENTION



[0001] The present invention relates to an aroma display and, more specifically to an improvement of an aroma display that is capable of emission of various scents by loading a plurality of aroma cartridges.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION



[0002] Human communication is done in various modes based on human senses. Most frequently used are visual and auditory communications. By contrast, olfaction or sense of smell, on which we rely considerably in our lives, is hardly used for communication. However, if the sense of smell can be utilized in addition to visual and auditory senses, communication would be more effective and various people would be able to share deeper experiences.

[0003] Focusing on this point, recently, devices have been used which are used with audio-visual reproducing devices such as television receivers (hereinafter referred to as TVs), personal computers (hereinafter referred to as PCs) and game machines for generating scents appropriate for the time and place. In the present Specification, such a device that generates scent appropriate for scenes will be referred to as an aroma display.

[0004] Emission of a certain scent supposed to be fit for a certain scene would not be very effective if there is any lingering scent produced immediately before. Therefore, an aroma display is desirable that can diffuse a desired scent in a certain limited scope at one time point and can blow out that scent and switch to another scent at another time point.

[0005] Without the capability to freely switch from one scent to another, an aroma display cannot make full use of scents. For this purpose, one possible approach is to prepare a plurality of cartridges (referred to as aroma cartridges) each containing a pre-selected scent emission source (referred to as a scent source), to load them to an aroma display and to cause the desired cartridge to emit the scent.

[0006] A scent channel for emitting the scent from the scent source in the cartridge is formed in the cartridge, and a mechanism for feeding air into the cartridge is provided to the aroma display, so that the scent is emitted through the channel to the outside. Aside from the mechanism for emitting scent from each cartridge, an air emitting mechanism for emitting air free of any scent component, having an air emission opening near the scent passage, is provided in the aroma display. For switching scents after one scent is emitted, air is emitted from the air emitting mechanism to blow out the scented air therearound and then another scent is emitted. Thus, scents can be switched at any timing, avoiding improper blending of scents.

[0007] Such a technique is described in JP2014-092673A. The technique disclosed in this reference is as described above. It is noted, however, that an opening is formed in the housing of an aroma display for emitting the scent to the outside, and the scent channels from respective aroma cartridges and air emission openings are all connected to this opening. Each aroma cartridge is detachably loaded to the housing of the aroma display. An opening for introducing air into the aroma cartridge is formed at a prescribed portion of each aroma cartridge. At that portion of the aroma display which corresponds to this opening when an aroma cartridge is loaded on the aroma display, a wind source containing a diaphragm with a piezoelectric element attached is mounted corresponding to each aroma cartridge. By applying AC voltage to the piezoelectric element, the diaphragm vibrates and introduces air into the aroma cartridge through a nozzle provided on the wind source and through the opening of the aroma cartridge. From the aroma cartridge that received the introduced air, scented air corresponding to the scent source therein is emitted to the outside through the scent channel.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION


Problems to be Solved by the Invention



[0008] The aroma display having the above-described structure is capable of freely switching scents by selecting the wind source or sources to be operated. Further, by operating the air emitting mechanism at that time, it is possible to prevent undesired blending of scents. The wind source to be operated and its timing may be controlled by sending an external command to the aroma display. Therefore, the aroma display can achieve magnificent effects of emitting desired scents appropriately by causing desired wind sources at desired timings of movies or animation films.

[0009] Here, the information as to which wind source is to be operated to emit which scent is indispensable to enable emission control for emitting desired scents. For this purpose, according to JP2014-092673A, identification numbers are allocated to the aroma cartridge loading sections of the aroma display. An aroma display having a capacity of six cartridges as shown as an example in JP2014-092673A has numbers 1 to 6 allocated to the respective cartridge loading sections. Information indicating what type of scent comes from which cartridge loaded to the section of which number is recorded in a controller (PC or the like) that controls the aroma display. To identify various different scents, each aroma cartridge has an ID code indicating its scent. Every time an aroma cartridge is loaded to the aroma display, the user inputs the number of the loading section and the ID code of the aroma cartridge loaded to the loading section associated with each other.

[0010] This user must repeat this process every time he/she changes the aroma cartridges. This is a troublesome task prone to input error. Erroneous input leads to emission of a scent not intended, making the valuable communication tool useless or spoiling the communication. This problem becomes more serious as the number of cartridges loadable to the aroma display increases and the number of scents of the aroma cartridges increases.

[0011] Therefore, it is preferable to provide an aroma cartridge and an aroma display enabling reliable control of aroma cartridges and reducing the possibility of erroneous emissions of the scent not intended.

Means to Solve the Problems



[0012] According to a first aspect, the present invention provides an aroma cartridge, including a columnar housing having first and second substantially triangular surfaces parallel to and congruent with each other and a side surface connecting the first and second surfaces. The housing has a hollow portion to store a scent source, a scent passage for emitting scent from the scent source in the hollow portion to the outside, connecting the hollow portion to the outside and opening at the first surface, and an opening for introducing air from outside to the hollow portion. Each of the first and second surfaces has a corresponding first vertex. The scent passage is opened at a portion near the first vertex of the first surface. The aroma cartridge further includes a near field communication tag provided on the second surface or the side surface of the housing for transmitting identification data for identifying the type of scent source contained in the aroma cartridge to a near field communication chip by near field communication. The near field communication tag is arranged on the surface of the housing, at a position closer to the second surface than the first surface and closer to an opposite side of the first vertex of the second surface than the first vertex of the second surface.

[0013] Preferably, the near field communication tag is arranged at a position closer to the opposite side than the first vertex on the second surface of the housing.

[0014] More preferably, the opening is formed on the side surface.

[0015] More preferably, the near field communication tag is arranged at a position closer to the center of the opposite side than the first vertex on the second surface of the housing.

[0016] Preferably, the triangle is an isosceles triangle and the first vertex is the vertex formed by two sides of equal length of the isosceles triangle.

[0017] More preferably, the triangle is an equilateral triangle.

[0018] More preferably, the near field communication tag is attached to the housing by an adhesive sticker.

[0019] According to a second aspect, the present invention provides an aroma display having a cartridge loading section for containing a plurality of aroma cartridges, for emitting scent from each of the plurality of aroma cartridges. Each of the plurality of aroma cartridges includes a columnar housing having first and second substantially triangular surfaces parallel to and congruent with each other and a side surface connecting the first and second surface. The housing has a hollow portion to store a scent source, a scent passage for emitting scent from the scent source in the hollow portion to the outside, connecting the hollow portion to the outside and opening at the first surface, and an opening for introducing air from outside to the hollow portion. Each of the first and second surfaces has a corresponding first vertex. The scent passage is opened at a portion near the first vertex of the first surface. The aroma cartridge further includes a near field communication tag provided on the second surface or the side surface of the housing for transmitting identification data for identifying the type of scent source contained in the aroma cartridge to a near field communication chip by near field communication. The near field communication tag is arranged on the surface of the housing, at a position closer to the second surface than the first surface and closer to an opposite side of the first vertex of the second surface than the first vertex of the second surface. The cartridge loading section of the aroma display has an inner shape rotationally symmetric about a prescribed center, and receives each aroma cartridge such that the first vertex is positioned adjacent to the center and such that the second surfaces of the plurality of aroma cartridges are aligned on one plane. The aroma display further includes a chip stage mounting a plurality of near field communication chips arranged at positions enabling communication with the near field communication tag of any of the plurality of aroma cartridges, respectively corresponding to the plurality of aroma cartridges loaded in the cartridge loading section.

[0020] Preferably, in the aroma display, each of the near field communication chips receives, when the aroma cartridge is loaded at a portion close to the near field communication chip, data identifying the scent source contained in the aroma cartridge by near field communication with the near field communication tag of the aroma cartridge, and outputs the data identifying the scent source and data identifying the near field communication tag. The aroma display further includes a control circuit receiving the data identifying the scent source from each of the near field communication chips, and based on the data, driving that aroma cartridge which has a desired scent source to emit the scent.

[0021] More preferably, the plurality of near field communication chips are arranged on a circle centered at the prescribed center.

[0022] More preferably, the plurality of near field communication chips are arranged on the circle at an equal distance from each other.

[0023] Preferably, the circle is on the side opposite to the first surface with respect to the plane on which the second surfaces are aligned.

[0024] More preferably, the plurality of near field communication chips are arranged at positions closer to the opposite side of the first vertex than the first vertex of the second surface.

[0025] According to a third aspect, the present invention provides an aroma display system including one or a plurality of aroma cartridges and an aroma display emitting scent from the plurality of aroma cartridges. Each of the plurality of aroma cartridges includes a columnar housing having first and second substantially triangular surfaces parallel to and congruent with each other and a side surface connecting the first and second surfaces. The housing has a hollow portion to store a scent source, a scent passage for emitting scent from the scent source in the hollow portion to the outside, connecting the hollow portion to the outside and opening at the first surface, and an opening for introducing air from outside to the hollow portion. Each of the first and second surfaces has a corresponding first vertex, and the scent passage is opened at a portion near the first vertex of the first surface. The aroma cartridge further includes a near field communication tag provided on the second surface or the side surface of the housing for transmitting identification data for identifying the type of scent source contained in the aroma cartridge to a near field communication chip by near field communication. The near field communication tag is arranged on the surface of the housing, at a position closer to the second surface than the first surface and closer to an opposite side of the first vertex of the second surface than the first vertex of the second surface. The aroma cartridge has a cartridge loading section for containing a plurality of aroma cartridges. The cartridge loading section has an inner shape rotationally symmetric about a prescribed center, and receives the aroma cartridge such that the first vertex is positioned adjacent to the center and such that the second surfaces of the plurality of aroma cartridges are aligned on one plane. The aroma display further includes a chip stage mounting a plurality of near field communication chips arranged at positions enabling communication with the near field communication tag of any of the plurality of aroma cartridges, respectively corresponding to the plurality of aroma cartridges loaded in the cartridge loading section.

[0026] The foregoing and other objects, features, aspects and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description of the present invention when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0027] 

Fig. 1 shows an appearance of the aroma display in use, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

Fig. 2 is a perspective view from obliquely above of the aroma display shown in Fig. 1.

Fig. 3 is a perspective view from obliquely below of the aroma display shown in Fig. 1.

Fig. 4 is a cross-section of a plane 4-4 of the aroma display shown in Fig. 1.

Fig. 5 is an exploded perspective view from obliquely above of the aroma display shown in Fig. 2.

Fig. 6 is an exploded perspective view from obliquely below of the aroma display shown in Fig. 3.

Fig. 7 is an enlarged perspective view of a portion indicated by reference number 7 in Fig. 5.

Fig. 8 is a plan view of an NFC chip stage.

Fig. 9 is a perspective view from obliquely above of the aroma cartridge.

Fig. 10 is a perspective view from obliquely above of the aroma cartridge turned upside-down.

Fig. 11 is a cross-section of the aroma cartridge shown in Figs. 2 and 4 taken along 11-11.

Fig. 12 is an enlarged view of the portion indicated by reference number 12 in Fig. 11.

Fig. 13 is an enlarged cross-section of a micro-blower.

Fig. 14 is a cross-section showing routes of air flow in the aroma display.


DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS



[0028] In the following description and in the drawings, the same components are denoted by the same reference characters. Therefore, detailed description thereof will not be repeated. It is naturally understood that not every components of the embodiments described below is indispensable for the present invention. Some of the components may be omitted or replaced by other forms.

[First Embodiment]


<Structure>



[0029] Fig. 1 shows an appearance of an aroma display 50 in accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention. The aroma display 50 has a housing 60 that is a substantially hexagonal column. At a central portion of an upper panel, which corresponds to a bottom plate of the hexagonal column of the housing 60, there is an opening section 64. At the center of the opening section 64, an opening 68 is formed, from which scent-free air from an air emission mechanism placed in the housing 60 is emitted. Around this opening, six openings including an opening 70 are formed, from which scents are emitted from six aroma cartridges (not shown in Fig. 1) loaded in the housing 60.

[0030] The aroma display 50 can be mounted on a tripod 62 for a camera. By mounting on the tripod 62, it becomes possible to place the aroma display 50 by the side of a PC, for example, with the opening section 64 of the aroma display 50 positioned very close to and directed to the user's face. This is effective to send desired scents to the user.

[0031] A micro USB connector 66 is provided on a side surface of the housing 60. Connector 66 is for feeding power to the aroma display 50 through a USB cable and to charge a built-in battery of the aroma display 50. Note that the circuitry of the aroma display 50 does not communicate with the outside through the USB cable. The circuitry inside the aroma display 50 exchanges data with the outside through wireless communication. Naturally, the inner circuitry of the aroma display 50 may perform data communication with the outside through wired communication by the USB cable.

[0032] Referring to Figs. 2 to 4, the housing 60 includes: a base panel 82; a base body 84 arranged above the base panel 82 and screwed to the base panel 82; a middle body 86 fitted to the base body 84 from above; an upper body 88 fitted above the middle body 86, having a cartridge loading section opening upward, to which aroma cartridges, not shown, are loaded; and an upper panel 90 fitted to the upper body 88 to close the upper opening of the upper body 88. By removing the upper panel 90, the opening of the upper body 88 is exposed, allowing a user access to the aroma cartridge loading section, to load or remove an aroma cartridge to and from the loading section.

[0033] In the present embodiment, the upper body 88 has a hexagonal cross-section, and the cartridge loading section to which six aroma cartridges are loadable is formed inside the the upper body 88. As can be seen from Fig. 4, in the upper body 88, aroma cartridges 132, 138 and so on are loaded, as will be described later. On a bottom surface of the aroma cartridge 132, for example, an NFC tag 164 is attached, and at a nearby portion of the upper body 88, an NFC chip capable of wireless communication with the NFC tag 164 is provided. These will be described later.

[0034] On a side surface of the base body 84, a screw hole 92 is formed as shown in Figs. 2 to 4, to which the tripod 62 (Fig. 1) may be screwed in. The screw hole 92 is formed to meet a specific standard so that a tripod for a camera can be fitted.

[0035] Referring to Figs. 5 and 6, the base body 84 contains: a control board having mounted thereon a communication device for wireless communication to/from the outside and a control circuitry for driving a micro blower, which will be described later; and a battery as the power source thereof. Between the middle body 86 and the upper body 88, an NFC chip stage 102 is provided. Further, on the base panel 82, a large number of small holes are formed to take in air, used to generate power to blow out scented air from the aroma cartridges. A filter 94 is provided between the base panel 82 and the base body 84 to remove dust from the introduced air.

[0036] Referring to Figs. 7 and 8, on an upper surface of the NFC chip stage 102, six NFC chips 180, 182, 184, 186, 188 and 190 are fixed at positions corresponding to the aroma cartridges to be loaded. These NFC chips are NFC readers and fixed at prescribed positions with equal intervals on a circle having the center at the center of the cartridge loading section. The NFC chip stage 102 is arranged such that when the aroma cartridge is loaded to the aroma display, the upper surface of the chip stage is positioned slightly apart from the lower surface of the aroma cartridge to the side of the base body 84. When an aroma cartridge is loaded at the portion corresponding to each NFC chip, an identifier indicating the scent of the aroma cartridge can be received by NFC communication from the NFC tag attached to the lower surface of the loaded cartridge. For this reason, it is desirable that the NFC chip is arranged not close to the vertex on the edge of lower surface of the corresponding aroma cartridge but close to the opposing side where the NFC tag is attached. Openings 192, 194, 196, 198, 200 and 202 as air flow passages are formed in the vicinity of respective NFC chips.

[0037] These NFC chips 180, 182, ..., 188, 190 are respectively connected to the wireless communication device contained in the base body 84. The wireless communication device identifies the position of each NFC chip in accordance with the inputs to which the NFC chips are connected, and transmits data indicating loading positions of the aroma cartridges to the outside, together with the respective codes of the aroma cartridges received from the corresponding NFC chip. In Fig. 6, numbers (1 to 6) shown on the lower surface of the base body 84 are identifiers indicating respective loading positions and corresponding NFC chips.

[0038] Specifically referring to Fig. 6, at that portion on a lower surface of the upper body 88 which is above the NFC chip stage 102, a micro blower 104 as an air emission mechanism is fixed. The micro blower 104 and the mechanisms of the micro blowers for feeding air into each aroma cartridge will be described later.

[0039] Referring to Fig. 5, the upper body 88 has a substantially hexagonal cross-sectional shape as described above. While the details will be described later with reference to Figs. 11 and 12, the space inside the upper body 88 is divided into six cartridge loading sections 110, 112, ..., 118, 120 each being a space having a cross-section of regular triangle. The aroma cartridges 130, 132, ..., 138, 140 are loaded to the respective cartridge loading sections 110, 112, ..., 118, 120.

[0040] Referring to Figs. 9 and 10, by way of example, the aroma cartridge 132 has a housing 150 of which cross-section is substantially a regular triangle, consisting of upper and lower surfaces 142 and 144 parallel to and congruent with each other, and a side surface 146 formed to connect their circumferences. The housing 150 has one edge 152 in the longitudinal direction, and on two side surfaces on both sides of the edge 152, grooves 154 and 156 are formed near the edge 152.

[0041] Referring to Fig. 9, in an area of the upper surface 142 surrounded by the edge 152 and the grooves 154 and 156, an opening 160 is formed, which is connected to a hollow space inside the housing 150 for emitting scented air from the scent source sealed in the housing 150. On that portion of the side surface 146 opposite to the edge 152, is an opening 158 formed for feeding air from an outside micro blower into the housing 150.

[0042] Referring to Fig. 10, on the lower surface 144 of the housing 150, an NFC tag 164 is attached by means of a sticker 162, for transmitting the identifier of an aroma cartridge to the aroma display 50 by the near field communication with an NFC chip. In the present embodiment, the sticker 162 extends from the lower surface 144 and partly reaches the side surface 146. The NFC tag 164 on the sticker 162 is commercially available and it is used in the present embodiment. The sticker 162 can be peeled off from the housing 150 and, therefore, it is possible to remove the NFC tag 164 from the housing 150 and replace it with another as needed. The NFC tag 164 is attached to a lower surface 44 on a position near the opposite side of the edge 152. By attaching the NFC tag 164 at such a position, the distance between the NFC tags of adjacent aroma cartridges can be made longer when a plurality of aroma cartridges are loaded to the aroma display 50. As a result, the distance from the NFC tag to its corresponding NFC chip becomes shorter than the distance to other NFC chips, ensuring correct communication.

[0043] Referring to Fig. 11, the upper body 88 has the shape of a substantially hexagonal column as described above. Its inside is divided by division walls 212, 214, ..., 220, 222 extending from the center of the hexagon to each vertex, into the aroma cartridge loading sections each having a cross-section of substantially a regular triangle. At portions of the division walls 212, ..., 222 close to the center of the hexagon, protruding portions that engage with the grooves 154 and 156 shown in Fig. 9 are formed extending upward. Therefore, when an aroma cartridge is to be loaded to the cartridge loading section, it can be correctly positioned by positioning the grooves 154 and 156 to be engaged to the protruding portions of the division wall.

[0044] When each cartridge is loaded to the cartridge loading section, it follows that the opening for introducing air into the aroma cartridge faces outward from the upper body 88. For example, referring to Fig. 12, the aroma cartridge 132 has its opening 158 facing outward. Between the upper body 88 and the aroma cartridge 132, a micro blower 234 is arranged for feeding air into the opening 158. By driving the micro blower 234, air is fed into the aroma cartridge 132, and scented air is emitted to the outside from the opening 160 (shown in Fig. 9) positioned near the center for scent emission of the aroma cartridge 132.

[0045] Micro blower 234 has the same structure as disclosed in JP2014-092673A mentioned above. Referring to Fig. 13, specifically, the micro blower 234 has a case 250 with a blower chamber 252 as an inner space, and a cover member 254 with a nozzle 270 formed on its upper surface, attached to the upper surface of case 250 so that it covers the upper surface of case 250 to close the blower chamber 252. An air channel 256 is formed in nozzle 270, and air channel 256 opens into the upper portion of blower chamber 252.

[0046] Blower chamber 252 is divided into upper and lower two portions by a partition plate 258. At a position immediately below air channel 256 of partition plate 258, an opening 260 is formed aligned with air channel 256.

[0047] In the lower space of blower chamber 252 divided by the partition plate 258, a diaphragm 262 formed of a thin metal plate with spring resiliency and a piezoelectric element 264 bonded to the lower surface of diaphragm 262 are provided. By applying AC voltage to piezoelectric element 264, diaphragm 262 vibrates up and down and emits air through opening 260 to blower chamber 252 and further through air channel 256 to the outside. By positioning the micro blower 234 inside the upper body 88 such that nozzle 270 is positioned at the opening on the back side of the aroma cartridge, air can be introduced into the aroma cartridge at a desired timing for a desired time period, and thus, scented air can be emitted from the aroma cartridge. It is noted that an air intake opening 266 is formed in case 250, and the air from intake opening 266 is fed through an air channel 268 to blower chamber 252.

[0048] Each of the aroma cartridges other than the aroma cartridge 132 also has a micro blower arranged for feeding air into the aroma cartridge through the opening on the back side. By operating these independently from each other, it is possible to emit the scented air at a desired timing for a desired time period from a desired aroma cartridge. The micro blower 104 shown in Fig. 6 also has the same structure as this one and it can emit air at a desired timing from the opening 68 shown in Figs. 1, 2, and 4.

[0049] Fig. 14 shows the air flow inside the aroma display 50. Description will be given with reference to the aroma cartridge 132. The base panel 82 has many openings through which air is taken into the housing 60. The air passes through air flow paths 300 and 302 formed in the base body 84 and the middle body 86, part of the air passes through air flow path 306 to the micro blower 104 and the remaining part passes through air flow path 304 formed in the upper body 88 to the micro blower 234. When AC voltage is applied to the micro blower 234, the air emitted from the micro blower 234 passes through the air channel 256 into the aroma cartridge 132.

[0050] When air is introduced by the micro blower 234 to the aroma cartridge 132, scented air inside the aroma cartridge 132 is emitted to the outside through a path from the opening 160 of the aroma cartridge 132 to the opening 70 of the upper panel 90. The flow is the same in other aroma cartridges.

[0051] On the other hand, when AC voltage is applied to the micro blower 104, the air fed into the micro blower 104 passes through an air flow path 310 and emitted to the outside through the opening 68 formed in the upper panel 90. When scented air is emitted from an aroma cartridge and thereafter air is emitted through the opening 68, the lingering scent is dissipated and effective switch to another scent becomes possible.

[0052] The air emitted from the opening 68 by driving the micro blower 104 by AC voltage also has a boosting function that carries the scented air emitted from the opening 70 farther away, in addition to the function of dissipating the lingering air. Micro blower 104 may have the same size as micro blower 234 for feeding air to the aroma cartridge 132. For this purpose, however, it is preferable to have a larger size and a structure capable of feeding more air with more strength than micro blower 234. Further, by adjusting the amount of air emitted from the opening 68 by the micro blower 104, it is possible to adjust the density of the scent emitted from the opening 70. Further, by adjusting the amount of air from the openings 68 and 70, it is possible to implement a perfume blending function of the aroma display 50.

<Operation>



[0053] Aroma display 50 described above operates in the following manner.

[0054]  As a premise, it is assumed that aroma cartridges and the aroma display 50 are sold separately. Each aroma cartridge has a label indicating the scent source contained therein, and an NFC tag storing an identifier allocated beforehand to the scent source is attached on the bottom surface. A user of the aroma display 50 buys an aroma cartridge or aroma cartridges he/she likes and loads them to the aroma display 50 in the following manner.

[0055] Referring to Fig. 5, by removing the upper panel 90 from the housing 60, the upper opening of the upper body 88 is exposed. The user loads each of the aroma cartridges to any cartridge loading section therein. For example, he/she may load the aroma cartridges to all six cartridge loading sections. Thereafter, the upper panel 90 is attached to the housing 60.

[0056] Referring to Fig. 4, when aroma cartridges are loaded to the upper body 88, the NFC tag 164 attached to each aroma cartridge will be positioned near the corresponding NFC chip of the loading section where the aroma cartridge is loaded, among the NFC chips 180, 182, ..., 188, 190 provided on the NFC chip stage 102 in the middle body 86. As a result, the NFC tag 164 transmits the scent identifier of the aroma cartridge to the corresponding NFC chip by near field communication with the NFC chip. It is particularly noted that the NFC tag will be positioned near the outer periphery of the bottom surface of aroma cartridge, and the distance between the NFC tags of adjacent aroma cartridges is long. As a result, each NFC chip communicates correctly with the NFC tag of the corresponding aroma cartridge, and communication error can be prevented.

[0057] In the present embodiment, the scent identifier is transmitted to the wireless communication device. The wireless communication device transmits information specifying the NFC chip that has transmitted the scent identifier (information specifying the position of loading section corresponding to the NFC chip) and its associated scent identifier to an external PC, for example, for controlling the entire operation of the aroma display 50. Then, it becomes possible for the external PC to know which aroma cartridge is loaded to which cartridge loading section of the aroma display 50.

[0058] Assume that there is a scenario for a movie reproduced on a PC, for example, to emit a specific scent identified by the identifier at a specific scene for a specific time period in synchronization with the movie. Then the PC reads the scenario and reproduces the scenario to be synchronized with the movie. Specifically, the PC transmits a command to the wireless communication device of the aroma display 50 such that a specific scent is emitted from the aroma cartridge with the designated identifier at the timing designated by the scenario. Receiving the command, the wireless communication device applies AC voltage at the designated timing for the designated time period to the micro blower of the cartridge loading section on which the designated scent is loaded. As a result, the designated scent is emitted from the aroma display 50 at the timing and for the duration as designated by the scenario.

[0059] As described above, in order to reproduce various scents by the aroma display 50, it is necessary for the PC to know beforehand which aroma cartridge with specific identifier is loaded at which loading section of the aroma display 50. For this purpose, conventionally, it has been necessary to manually specify which cartridges are loaded at which positions. When one uses the aroma display 50 in accordance with the above-described embodiment, what is necessary is to simply select which cartridges (which scents) are to be loaded in the aroma display 50. There is no need to care about where to load which aroma cartridges. Further, it is unnecessary to manually input which cartridge is loaded at which position to a device controlling the aroma display 50. Therefore, by the aroma cartridges and the aroma display provided by the present invention, reliable control of aroma cartridges becomes possible, and the possibility of emitting the scent that is not intended can be reduced.

[0060] In the embodiment above, an NFC tag is attached to the bottom surface of each aroma cartridge. The present invention, however, is not limited to such an embodiment. An NFC tag may be attached to a side surface of each aroma cartridge and an NFC chip may be arranged on the division wall of an aroma cartridge loading section of the aroma display. Further, if it is possible to attach an NFC chip on the rear surface of the upper panel 90, an NFC tag may be attached on the upper surface of an aroma cartridge. An NFC tag may be embedded inside rather than attached to the outer surface of each aroma cartridge. Alternatively, a slot may be formed in the housing of an aroma cartridge, and an NFC tag may be fitted therein.

[0061] Further, in the embodiment above, the aroma cartridge is loaded to the cartridge loading section from above by removing the upper panel 90 of the housing 60. The present invention, however, is not limited to such an embodiment. By way of example, a door may be provided on a side surface of the housing of the cartridge loading section, and the cartridge may be loaded from the side surface. In this case also, the positions of the NFC tag and the NFC chip may be appropriately determined to enable communication between the two.

[0062] Further, in the embodiment above, a scent identifier is stored in the NFC tag of each aroma cartridge. The present invention, however, is not limited to such an embodiment. Assume, for example, that aroma cartridges manufactured by different companies or aroma cartridges imported from abroad are to be used. The scent identifiers of these cartridges may or may not be common and if not, the scent type cannot be specified by the identifier only. In that case, another identifier indicating the origin such as the country or manufacturer may be necessary. A service translating identifiers indicating different countries or different manufacturers and identifiers used for scents in different countries and by different manufacturers to common identifiers would be helpful, since by accessing such a service, an identifier of any scent can be translated to a common identifier and hence wider variety of aroma cartridges become available.

[0063] Alternatively, each aroma cartridge may have its own identifier that is stored in an NFC tag, and information of identifiers of respective aroma cartridges combined with information specifying corresponding scents may be posted on a network to allow searching. By reading a cartridge identifier from its NFC tag and by specifying the scent corresponding to the identifier on the network, the same effects as described in the embodiment above can be attained.

[0064]  In the embodiment above, the number of cartridges that can be used at one time is six. The present invention, however, is not limited to such an embodiment. Provided that the opening for emitting scents can be formed in a very limited area, a larger number of aroma cartridges can be used. In that case, the trouble of inputting larger number of identifiers can significantly be reduced, and use of the aroma display becomes more convenient. In the embodiment above, an example has been described in which scent is emitted from a single aroma cartridge. The present invention, however, is not limited to such an embodiment. By emitting a plurality of different scents at one time, a scent very much different from any of the scents of any single aroma cartridges loaded in the aroma display can be produced.

[0065] The embodiments as have been described here are mere examples and should not be interpreted as restrictive. The scope of the present invention is determined by each of the claims with appropriate consideration of the written description of the embodiments and embraces modifications within the meaning of, and equivalent to, the languages in the claims.


Claims

1. An aroma cartridge, comprising
a columnar housing having first and second substantially triangular surfaces parallel to and congruent with each other and a side surface connecting the first and second surfaces; wherein
said housing has a hollow portion to store a scent source, a scent passage for emitting scent from the scent source in the hollow portion to the outside, connecting said hollow portion to the outside and opening at said first surface, and an opening for introducing air from outside to said hollow portion;
each of said first and second surfaces has a corresponding first vertex;
said scent passage is opened at a portion near said first vertex of said first surface;
said aroma cartridge further comprising
a near field communication tag provided on said second surface or said side surface of said housing for transmitting identification data for identifying type of scent source contained in the aroma cartridge to a near field communication chip by near field communication; wherein
said near field communication tag is arranged on the surface of said housing, at a position closer to said second surface than said first surface and closer to an opposite side of said first vertex of said second surface than said first vertex of said second surface.
 
2. The aroma cartridge according to claim 1, wherein said near field communication tag is arranged at a position closer to said opposite side than said first vertex on said second surface of said housing.
 
3. The aroma cartridge according to claim 2, wherein said opening is formed on said side surface.
 
4. The aroma cartridge according to claim 3, wherein said near field communication tag is arranged at a position closer to the center of said opposite side than said first vertex on said second surface of said housing.
 
5. The aroma cartridge according to claim 4, wherein said triangle is an isosceles triangle and said first vertex is the vertex formed by two sides of equal length of said isosceles triangle.
 
6. The aroma cartridge according to claim 5, wherein said triangle is an equilateral triangle.
 
7. The aroma cartridge according to claim 6, wherein said near field communication tag is attached to said housing by an adhesive sticker.
 
8. The aroma cartridge according to claim 1, wherein said opening is formed on said side surface.
 
9. The aroma cartridge according to claim 1, wherein said near field communication tag is arranged at a position closer to the center of said opposite side than said first vertex on said second surface of said housing.
 
10. The aroma cartridge according to claim 1, wherein said triangle is an isosceles triangle and said first vertex is the vertex formed by two sides of equal length of said isosceles triangle.
 
11. The aroma cartridge according to claim 1, wherein said triangle is an equilateral triangle.
 
12. The aroma cartridge according to claim 1, wherein said near field communication tag is attached to said housing by an adhesive sticker.
 
13. An aroma display having a cartridge loading section for containing a plurality of aroma cartridges, for emitting scent from each of said plurality of aroma cartridges; wherein
each of said plurality of aroma cartridges includes
a columnar housing having first and second substantially triangular surfaces parallel to and congruent with each other and a side surface connecting the first and second surfaces;
said housing has a hollow portion to store a scent source, a scent passage for emitting scent from the scent source in the hollow portion to the outside, connecting said hollow portion to the outside and opening at said first surface, and an opening for introducing air from outside to said hollow portion;
each of said first and second surfaces has a corresponding first vertex;
said scent passage is opened at a portion near said first vertex of said first surface;
said aroma cartridge further includes
a near field communication tag provided on said second surface or said side surface of said housing for transmitting identification data for identifying type of scent source contained in the aroma cartridge to a near field communication chip by near field communication;
said near field communication tag is arranged on the surface of said housing, at a position closer to said second surface than said first surface and closer to an opposite side of said first vertex of said second surface than said first vertex of said second surface;
said cartridge loading section of said aroma display has an inner shape rotationally symmetric about a prescribed center, and receives each said aroma cartridge such that said first vertex is positioned adjacent to said center and such that said second surfaces of said plurality of aroma cartridges are aligned on one plane;
said aroma display further comprising
a chip stage mounting a plurality of near field communication chips arranged at positions enabling communication with said near field communication tag of any of said plurality of aroma cartridges, respectively corresponding to said plurality of aroma cartridges loaded in said cartridge loading section.
 
14. The aroma display according to claim 13, wherein each of said near field communication chips receives, when said aroma cartridge is loaded at a portion close to said near field communication chip, data identifying scent source contained in said aroma cartridge by near field communication with said near field communication tag of said aroma cartridge, and outputs the data identifying the scent source and data identifying said near field communication tag;
said aroma display further comprising a control circuit receiving said data identifying the scent source from each of said near field communication chips, and based on the data, driving that aroma cartridge which has a desired scent source to emit the scent.
 
15. The aroma display according to claim 14, wherein said plurality of near field communication chips are arranged on a circle centered at said prescribed center.
 
16. The aroma display according to claim 15, wherein said plurality of near field communication chips are arranged on said circle at an equal distance from each other.
 
17. The aroma display according to claim 16, wherein said circle is on the side opposite to said first surface with respect to said plane on which said second surfaces are aligned.
 
18. The aroma display according to claim 17, wherein each of said plurality of near field communication chips is arranged at a position closer to the opposite side of said first vertex than said first vertex of said second surface.
 
19. An aroma display system comprising one or a plurality of aroma cartridges and an aroma display emitting scent from the plurality of aroma cartridges; wherein
each of said plurality of aroma cartridges includes
a columnar housing having first and second substantially triangular surfaces parallel to and congruent with each other and a side surface connecting the first and second surfaces;
said housing has a hollow portion to store a scent source, a scent passage for emitting scent from the scent source in the hollow portion to the outside, connecting said hollow portion to the outside and opening at said first surface, and an opening for introducing air from outside to said hollow portion;
each of said first and second surfaces has a corresponding first vertex;
said scent passage is opened at a portion near said first vertex of said first surface;
said aroma cartridge further includes
a near field communication tag provided on said second surface or said side surface of said housing for transmitting identification data for identifying type of scent source contained in the aroma cartridge to a near field communication chip by near field communication;
said near field communication tag is arranged on the surface of said housing, at a position closer to said second surface than said first surface and closer to an opposite side of said first vertex of said second surface than said first vertex of said second surface;
said aroma cartridge has a cartridge loading section for containing a plurality of aroma cartridges;
said cartridge loading section has an inner shape rotationally symmetric about a prescribed center, and receives each said aroma cartridge such that said first vertex is positioned adjacent to said center and such that said second surfaces of said plurality of aroma cartridges are aligned on one plane;
said aroma display further includes a chip stage mounting a plurality of near field communication chips arranged at positions enabling communication with said near field communication tag of any of said plurality of aroma cartridges, respectively corresponding to said plurality of aroma cartridges loaded in said cartridge loading section
 




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REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description