Byte-Sized Futurism #4


Let’s start a week on a lighter note.

I’ve been thinking about the concept of Smell-O-Vision – an idea originally reserved for the domain of science-fiction, but recently attempted by several startups to a varying level of success. I don’t really have much to say about the tech itself or its necessity (or lack thereof).

I do, however, have a beef with the naming.

The term Smell-O-Vision is, naturally, a play on the word Television. It seems though that whoever coined the term, cared more about the melody of the word than its meaning. See, the word “television” comes from two roots:

  • Tele- which is derived from the Greek τῆλε (tēle), meaning far or at a distance.
  • -vision which comes from the Latin visio, meaning sight or to see.

Together we get “seeing at a distance” – for a device that transmits images.

Smell-O-Vision grabs the wrong half of the word, translating to relatively meaningless “seeing smells”.

The technology should be globally re-coined into properly structured name of Tele-Smelle, though it’s probably not the hill I am willing to die on.

On another etymological note, for most of my life, American-English abbreviation of the word Helicopter made me think it came from roots of Heli- and -copter… only I could not figure out what heli stood for (perhaps the Sun, Helios?), since copter stood for helicopter. (What a recursive nightmare for an OCD person like myself).

Only recently I’ve learned the actual roots are Greek Helico- meaning spiral and -pter meaning wing. “Spiral Wing” – pretty freaking sweet, especially when you think about the shape the propellers trace during flight.