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07. 12. 2006

Robotic smells are almost here


Long distance smelling has always been a joke in the scientific world, but Japanese scientists have developed machinery that can analyze odors with fifteen electronic noses and break them down into the elemental compounds on which the smell is based. Once a basic profile for a scent has been created then it may be immediately duplicated or saved for future playback. Essentially, we're dealing with the first olfactory VCR.

Playback is a bit more difficult. Using a series of ninety-six separate ingredients the smell formulas are remixed, and a vaporizer diffuses the scent with the air. The distribution principle is similar to a perfume atomizer, but much more technically sexy.

The technology has far reaching consequences for the internet and entertainment media. "What scent were Megan and Sally wearing in that vampire fight scene?" or maybe "Emily and I were looking at the Cadillac webpage, and their new cars just smell so good!" I know that it seems strange, but there really are no limits to the marketing tie-ins that could result from this. Perfume, soap, and shampoo would practically sell themselves, and Madison Avenue would have to hire a lot more scientists.

Sadly, it will be a long time before this type of technology can be slipped into a magazine, or embedded into a monitor. The sensors and remixing station take up almost a square meter, and Im guessing at ten years before we can shrink the system down to a portable size.

Special thanks to Daniel Ashbrook for his picture of a pretty flower.

Posted by Johnny    Category: current affairs | devices
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