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Practical Applications of Smell Recordings

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the crappy-future dept.

172

ozmanjusri writes to mention a Tokyo Institute of Technology project to record scents for later playback. The New Scientist article suggests this technology could be used in commercials and medical applications. From the article: "Simply point the gadget at a freshly baked cookie, for example, and it will analyse its odour and reproduce it for you using a host of non-toxic chemicals. The device could be used to improve online shopping by allowing you to sniff foods or fragrances before you buy, to add an extra dimension to virtual reality environments and even to assist military doctors treating soldiers remotely by recreating bile, blood or urine odours that might help a diagnosis."

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hi (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15648221)

a scanner darkly is a great book

Smell-o-vision (5, Funny)

dubmun (891874) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648224)

Yay! Now I will be able to smell decomposing bodies when I watch CSI...

Re:Smell-o-vision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15648245)

Yay! Now I will be able to smell decomposing bodies when I watch CSI...

You think THAT's heavy? Wait till the slashdot trolls find a use for this one [wikipedia.org] !

Funk-o-vision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15648247)

"Yay! Now I will be able to smell decomposing bodies when I watch CSI..."

That's also known as "con funk".

Re:Smell-o-vision (2, Informative)

jerkmark (944142) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648472)

Smell-o-vision is right. This idea has been cropping up every few years or so since at least the 1960's, and every time they start trying to list practical applications, the concept veers off into ridiculousness. Maybe the medical uses are valid (I don't know how many diagnoses are odor-critical), but as far as online shopping is concerned, smell is simply not an important enough factor in 99% of my purchases, and I don't know how much I would trust a machine to reproduce the sublties of, say, a fine wine, or something where smell was particularly telling or vital. These cookies smell like porn.

Re:Smell-o-vision (2, Insightful)

tmossman (901205) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648671)

"I don't know how much I would trust a machine to reproduce the sublties of, say, a fine wine, or something where smell was particularly telling or vital."

I'm not a medical expert, but how useful could this really be? I mean, there's no question that this won't catch on with wine connoisseurs. They're a pretty picky bunch by nature; I doubt if they'd trust a machine over their refined noses. Not to mention that there's more to selecting a wine than its scent.

But medical diagnosis? Seriously? I mean, if someone is going to go to the trouble of examining a biological substance so closely that its odor can be reproduced to medically-valuable standards by a remote machine, why not just spend that time & effort doing real medical tests?

Don't get me wrong, I don't doubt that the Japanese will find fantastically weird ways to use this technology, but I suspect it'll end up in a lot more video arcades than hospitals.

Re:Smell-o-vision (1)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648607)

The important application for this is going to be as a blogging tool for dogs. Also, I (finally!) won't have to read my dog his email and he can check his MySpace page on his own.

Not as crazy as it sounds (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648709)

Well, that's not such a bad idea. Viewers certainly want an enhanced sense of realism in their movies/TV, and it has been argued (and personally, I agree) that the reason violence on TV is so popular is that it's NOT realistic enough. That is, by seeing people shot on TV, but not seeing the horrible aftermath, like crying friends and devastated families etc., the attack isn't seen to do the harm that it really does. Perhaps if viewers understood the situations that such things lead to a little more, they'd be less likely to see it as glamorous. This probably applies to army recruitment too ;)

Viruses (3, Interesting)

Ledsock (926049) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648227)

Imagine what a computer virus attacking that could do. Now in addition to having pop-ups, loud noises, and other issues, your computer can smell like vomit when you visit that unscrupulous porn or warez site!

Re:Viruses (2, Funny)

Julz (9310) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648253)

And they would make it smell like vomit because ....?

Perhaps other smells might be more appropriate. Then again you could have a kids filter that changes all those nasty pron smells to something really terrible so the kids don't want to be in there.

Warez could be burning plastic or perhaps the smell of blood, sweat and tears or maybe money.

Re:Viruses (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648467)

Finally, we have the Internet equivalent to "pull my finger".

Re:Viruses (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648325)

Now in addition to having pop-ups, loud noises, and other issues, your computer can smell like vomit when you visit that unscrupulous porn or warez site!

You computer would smell like vomit when visiting a porn site?

I don't want to know what kind of porn you're looking for.

Re:Viruses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15648447)

That's exactly what I was thinking. Ass, putang, cock, BO, various "love emissions" - sure, but vomit?

I suppose though, now that I've typed that out and read it, that the vomit we smell could end up being our own.

Re:Viruses (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648560)

However, if these became commonplace perhaps standard pop-ups should use pheromones to change how people react? For example, firewall pop-ups release an odour which makes people feel cautious and hence more likely to read the warning.

Cue the "Pull My Finger" virus (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15648228)

In 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...

Re:Cue the "Pull My Finger" virus (1)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648489)

I hate that "Press the fart button" ad. Now its come to life! AAAGH!

Re:Cue the "Pull My Finger" virus (1)

ross.w (87751) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648644)

They did say they used non-toxic chemicals for this...

Literally! (5, Funny)

PavementPizza (907876) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648231)

This is literally vaporware!

Re:Literally! (2, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648315)

This is literally vaporware!

Actually, I think the MPAA has prior art - they've been releasing expensive stinkers for decades.

Workout videos? (1)

Phantombrain (964010) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648232)

Whoa... This could be dangerous! Think of the BO!

heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15648236)

"reproduce it for you using a host of non-toxic chemicals"

i lol'd

Obligatory futurama quote: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15648237)


"Think of the astronomical odors you'll smell thanks to me!"

Next gen fart machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15648238)

This would be great for the next generation fart machine. You hear it and smell it.

Re:Next gen fart machine (1)

Gyga (873992) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648260)

They already sell fart spray.*

*Note when aiming at chest of big dude make sure you don't hit face- My friend

For the love of humanity please don't ever do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15648239)

... a "recording" of my ex-coworker. Let's just say that he brought a whole new meaning to "old fart." I'll leave it at that. Your imaginations can fill out the rest, but they definitely won't do it justice. Nothing can. Except a "smell recording." That alone would give me nightmares.

Re:For the love of humanity please don't ever do.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15648252)

Scooter, which one is it? Dick or George? I am sure that it can not Karl.

Advertising dollars in the making. (2, Interesting)

kneppercr (947840) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648249)

God knows the Big Mac doesn't look good unless it is on TV, so do you think they wil give you the real smell? I find most intrusions in my home annoying and this will go on the list as well. Limited applications? Sure. But please, PLEASE do not assault my sense of smell with what market research shows to be your grandma's fresh baked cookie scent. I don't even like scented candles for God's sake.

Re:Advertising dollars in the making. (2, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648276)

God knows the Big Mac doesn't look good unless it is on TV, so do you think they wil give you the real smell?

There was an outcry here recently when an advertiser proposed modifying the advertising signs on bus stops to smell like the alcoholic drinks they were advertising.

Smell is a much more intrusive medium than sound or vision. Advertising alcohol or tobacco (if such were legal here) by smell would definitely be wrong. IMO.

Re:Advertising dollars in the making. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15648353)

Wow... advertising alcohol or tobacco by scent would definately be wrong. Who actually think those products smell good?

But this advertising method would probably quadruple the sales of bacon. All you have to do to dodge this advertising is remember one key fact about bacon: bacon does not really taste all that good. Hear me out now... yes, I said bacon doesn't really taste very good. But the smell of bacon makes anything you are eating taste better. You smell bacon the strongest when you are eating it, so it seems that it tastes much better than it actually is. You would reach culinary nirvana if you had some bacon frying and ate as tall of a stack of Ritz crackers as you could, because we all know that everything tastes better on a Ritz, and this must include another Ritz cracker, so by recursion a stack of Ritz crackers would also taste better on a Ritz. I figure the rule only applies for stacks of food that fit in your mouth. Someone should experiment on this effect, preferable at like 3 or 4 in the morning when they are deliriously giggly tired because at this time it would be hilarious to see someone spit out a huge mouthfull of partially chewed ritz because they started laughing.

Re:Advertising dollars in the making. (1)

relifram66 (899283) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648376)

I do. As a matter of fact, I quite like the smell of both tobacco and alcohol. Also, regarding the GP, I'm not sure that smell is more invasive than sound. Can you demonstrate this?

Re:Advertising dollars in the making. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15648534)

silent but deadly farts..

enough said

Re:Advertising dollars in the making. (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648552)

The smell might cause an alcoholic to relapse. It's tough enough to have to avoid certain parties etc, but if they couldn't even go outside life would pretty much turn to hell for alcoholics.

Re:Advertising dollars in the making. (2, Insightful)

nametaken (610866) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648615)

For once I might be happy about a device that requires consumables. :)

Re:Advertising dollars in the making. (1)

ross.w (87751) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648648)

If they put the actual smell in the ad, no-one would buy them.

DigiScents?? (4, Informative)

Nexzus (673421) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648257)

A Company named DigiScents tried this during the boom. Shockingly enough, the company folded. From Wired, Nov. 99/a. [wired.com]

Re:DigiScents?? (2, Insightful)

cy_a253 (713262) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648308)

Yep. And calling their product iSmell probably didn't help much either.

Re:DigiScents?? (1)

SnprBoB86 (576143) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648503)

Recording a smell for playback is a little bit different than designing a smell for playback...

lordy (2, Funny)

caffiend2049 (984834) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648258)

I smell a rat.

Just Imagine the applications for this in... (2, Funny)

in_repose (985442) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648275)

PORN! You could smell her! Thinking about this further, it seems hilarious, insightful, scary, invigorating, fulfilling, unclean, erotic, and brilliant! TIGHT.

Re:Just Imagine the applications for this in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15648434)

Untill you happen to come across a site with girls eating poop and drinking piss staight out of another girls ass, or worse, from a guys ass. I know it might look nice (dirty), but once you get to smell it, you probably wont be looking at that stuff anymore.

*irronicially, the word i have to type in is "killed", its irronic because thats what will happen if you have to smell fresh poop, or girls fucking barnyard animals, or girls in bondage so long they piss on themselfs, or...*

Think this through... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15648499)

your wife, g/f can smell her, too...

this isn't going anywhere...

Re:Think this through... (1)

bytesex (112972) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648616)

No. This is slashdot.

Arr, me maties! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15648286)

Bring on the perfume pirates. If you can record it, you can pirate it!

Flicked past A&E the other night (2, Funny)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648297)

They were advertising the "sex suit" only for women, it's crazy that they are trying to put sex on the internet before something useful.

Ah well, sex sells. Even weird kinky smell sex, just include a "urine smell" and you'll sell to perverts everywhere!

Re:Flicked past A&E the other night (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15648390)

You're kidding, right? Pretty much every technology related to the internet exists because of the sex industry (pornography in particular.)

Streaming live video? What other purpose does that really serve?
High speed internet? It only reached critical mass because it allows people to download their porn faster and in higher resolution.
Newsgroups? If you every actually used one, you'd see what they were used for.

Hell, you know the reason that someone coded the first graphical web browser was to make it easier to put up pictures of naked chicks.

The anonymous feel of the internet makes the whole ordeal much more private, which means the PC guilt trip put on guys who want to look at girls without clothes on can be avoided.

Just like one of the oldest pictures in existance is of a naked girl. A porno was among the first movies made. You know the REAL reason why VHS won the format war? That's right... Sony refused to liscense Beta to pornographers. I'd be willing to bet that once man figured out how to paint on a cave wall, some of the very first images created were of naked females. And you can bet that some of the first sculptures had boobs or a penis, and you can find examples of sculptures that even had both! (Just as you can find examples of pictures of people with both all over the internet. It's really unsettling when you are trying to get aroused by pictures of naked women, and all of a sudden there's wang hangin down there.) If you need proof of the last existing, click here [xnxx.com] note: DO NOT CLICK LINK AT WORK OR ON A SHARED COMPUTER. Unless you want to get busted looking at pictures of chicks with dicks photoshopped on.

Re:Flicked past A&E the other night (1)

SocialEngineer (673690) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648407)

Just think about those poor souls with foot fetishes! No longer will they have to steal their neighbor's high heels in order to get a sniff - they can just point, click, download, and sniff in the privacy of their own home! Family Guy needs to spoof this. Bad.. "It's Quagmire!"

Re:Flicked past A&E the other night (1)

Seven Sided Snowflak (930879) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648584)

>> it's crazy that they are trying to put sex on the internet before something useful.

There's something more useful than sex? Are you kidding? I bet the reason that this hasn't caught on yet is that nobody has pornified it.

Re:Flicked past A&E the other night (1)

et764 (837202) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648708)

it's crazy that they are trying to put sex on the internet before something useful.

In the Road Ahead, Bill Gates made pretty much this same observation. He said that historically when a new medium comes around, pretty much the first thing people put on it is sex. Apparently some of the first uses of paper were erotic drawings.

FARTS.. (2, Funny)

Boap (559344) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648299)

With a device like that you could record and leave the stinkiest farts around and play great pratical jokes.

Re:FARTS.. (1)

Chris Daniel (807289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648537)

" ... and play great practical jokes." I think you misspelled childish.

Re:FARTS.. (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648656)

If you think someone can use the words "Practical" & "Smell Recordings" in the same story & get away without at least one fart joke, you're a damn, oh, oh god, quick sombody click my finger !!

Re:FARTS.. (1)

rjshields (719665) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648673)

Missing: Chris Daniel's sense of homour. Last seen: unknown.

Pull my finger!

What about toxic smells? (2, Interesting)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648300)

What about toxic smells? If those could be reproduced it could act as a passive barrier defense (note I am NOT in flavour if this).

I think it was in one of the Feist books where the guild of thieves kept one of their headquarters' secret entrances concealed by throwing a dead cat into it once per week, which I find rather clever.

Would the smell of rotting meat be more effective than a loud siren as a burglar alarm? ("Call the police, honey, I think somebody died in there").

Would stores buy "smell printers" to pipe the smell of popcorn or fresh-baked bread near the high-margin retail shelves? Conceal the true value of a shelf of wines by piping in the smell of Grange Hermitage over the top? Bad smells near the cash office or complaints desk?

Could we truly be led around by our noses by people who installed these things commercially? Niven and Barnes made low-grade smell manufacture ("Neutral Scent") a plot element in the original Dream Park, which I think was some sort of unscented pheremone base. It's value was in the fact that the effect was totally and completely stealthy.

I'd be scared, if I had a sense of smell left.

Re:What about toxic smells? (1)

toQDuj (806112) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648475)

"Would stores buy "smell printers" to pipe the smell of popcorn or fresh-baked bread near the high-margin retail shelves? Conceal the true value of a shelf of wines by piping in the smell of Grange Hermitage over the top? Bad smells near the cash office or complaints desk?"

Funny you should say that, because there are artifcial scents on the market with the smell of "fresh bread", for instance, used to entice customers in buying bread.

B.

Re:What about toxic smells? (4, Informative)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648505)

Would the smell of rotting meat be more effective than a loud siren as a burglar alarm?

It is more effective in certain applications. Underground mines use Ethyl Mercaptan (stench gas) to warn workers to evacuate the mine http://www.zacon.ca/stench-gas.asp [zacon.ca] . If you've ever experienced it, you'll know there's a strong incentive to get the hell out of there.

Re:What about toxic smells? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15648570)

note I am NOT in flavour if this

No, it doesn't change the taste.

Re:What about toxic smells? (2, Informative)

dargaud (518470) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648678)

Would stores buy "smell printers" to pipe the smell of popcorn or fresh-baked bread near the high-margin retail shelves?
Smell generators have been in use for about a decade outside of some shops, mainly bakeries. Have you ever walked down a street, smelled a good freshly baked bread scent, only to walk into the bakery where the smell is mostly absent and the bread has been sitting in the shelves since the early morning, long baked ? I don't have a reference or name for those items, but they do exist, google for them. The difference is that they usually do only one specific smell.

perfume? (2, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648309)

I wonder if this could be used to recreate perfume. imagine a $200 bottle of the stinky stuff being cheaply cloned by this device.

It shouldn't be hard to hack it up for mass production.

Re:perfume? (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648345)

You can bet the perfume industry would be the next RIAA.

Re:perfume? (1)

utnapistim (931738) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648568)

I wonder if this could be used to recreate perfume. imagine a $200 bottle of the stinky stuff being cheaply cloned by this device.

It shouldn't be hard to hack it up for mass production.

I don't know if it's that simple. For example, rose essential oil contains around a hundred chemical compounds composing it's fragrance. This is why it is usually obtained naturally for use in perfumes, instead of artificially. I'm not sure it can be synthesised actually.

In short, it would depend on the perfume.

Re:perfume? (1)

SorryTomato (944650) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648633)

You are SOL, I am already working on a nanorobot verification system that checks for Yves Saint-Laurent Genuine Advantage Certificate on each perfume molecule.

Re:perfume? (1)

Pink Tinkletini (978889) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648679)

Smells can be trademarked, like the distinctive scent of Singapore Airlines cabin interiors (no, I'm not kidding--it's actually really nice). Actually, it looks like it's a patent [google.com] instead. Shouldn't this sort of thing fall under trademark, not patent, law?

What about reverse engineering it.. (1)

apoKalypse (568147) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648357)

And extracting those chemicals that make it up? Then you could have all the cheap perfumes for alot less. Maybe you'd even be able to synthetically 'taste' what you smell. Cooking for guests and screw up the chicken? Just baste with synthetic smell and nobody will know the truth!

Prepare for an onslaught... (1)

teamhasnoi (554944) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648359)

of copyrighting smells. Can't use it, because it reproduces smells without authorization. There will be lawsuits if this gets off the ground

At least one smell will suffice for Microsoft, the Bush Administration, the RIAA/MPAA, and AT&T.

I think I'll call it 'Brown'.

Re:Prepare for an onslaught... (1)

nbannerman (974715) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648372)

Anyone wanting to copyright the smell of some of the patrons here at /. should be allowed; we can file a class action for all the health problems it'll cause...

I think I need some fresh air just *thinking* about it.

Re:Prepare for an onslaught... (1)

OldManAndTheC++ (723450) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648425)

Dear Sir,

As the legal representatives of the Perfume Industrial Trade Association (PITA), we hereby order you to cease and desist from reproducing the scent of one of our represented products, specifically, "Putrid". We have determined that your sweat glands contain the same olfactory composition as "Putrid", which is copyrighted in the U.S. the E.U., China, Japan, and Hell and its environs (incl. Detroit). Pursuant to this order, you are hereby enjoined to:

  • Prevent raising your arms such as to expose your armpits and thus release the copyrighted odors;
  • Change your underwear at least once per day so that the copyrighted odors are not emitted;
  • Wash thoroughly on a regular basis with soap sufficient to remove or mask the copyrighted odors

To ensure compliance with this order, a PITA representative will on a weekly basis inspect your domicile, your motor vehicle, your place of business, and any locations you frequent to detect any olfactory residue that might allow the transmission of copyrighted odors.

PITA reminds you that without stern enforcement of copyright law, the public would not be able to enjoy the fruits of the research laboratories of the perfume industry, including such products as "Putrid", "Rancid", "Nauseating", and "Ecch!".

I love the smell... (1)

dj245 (732906) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648366)

of bile in the morning. Smells like... Diagnosis.

All fart jokes aside, this smells useful (4, Interesting)

FractalZone (950570) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648368)

Think about how an odor producing agent, mercaptan [columbiagaspamd.com] , is added to natural gas so that people can more easily detect dangerous gas leaks. Likewise, think of how silly those scenes in movies where someone is doused in or surrounded by a liquid that is gasoline without realizing it are not very plausible -- you just know that person would smell the fumes and not light a match or do anything to create a spark.

There are certain smells that get our attention, not because they are unpleasant, but because they signify something important, perhaps even life threateningly dangerous! When you smell something burning, you almost automatically look around to see where the odor is coming from or if there is visible smoke or fire; unless, of course, you are the sort who can burn almost anything (water?) when trying to cook a meal. :-)

Olfactory signals might be terribly useful if they could be produced on demand in a very controlled manner. Animals can often tell a lot more about the world around them because they have well developed senses of smell. Humans lack great sniffers for the most part, but we are good at creating tools (machines) to enhance our natural abilities far beyond what nature has given us. Why not make smells more useful?

Think about the possibility in cosmetics alone. Instead of trinkets such as mood rings, people might wear scent generators that convey specific meanings/moods in a decidedly non-verbal manner. Isolating scents and producing complex odors on demand is a technology that just reeks of potential!

Dear Old Dad (3, Funny)

madgeorge (632496) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648370)

I'm blacklisting Dad now. Whatever you do, don't open that email with the subject line "Barking Frog"

Re:Dear Old Dad (1)

FormOfActionBanana (966779) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648646)

Poster said "non toxic"...

Alzheimers [was Re:Dear Old Dad] (1)

saitoh (589746) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648663)

yeah, i thought of my dad too.

One practical application I can think of this late/early is in Alzheimers cause the memory of smell for a few certain objects is the first to go. Peppermint and cinnamon are two of I think 12... I'd like to say what the others are... but I forgot ;p

Pheromones (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648374)

Imagine what you can do if instead of the 96(!) chemicals mentioned in TFA you use pheromones to 'enhance' your movie!

Analysing a smell recording... (1)

s-twig (775100) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648378)

In regards to analysing a smell recording for medical diagnosis, couldn't you just record the smell and analyse it with software rather than having to recreate it?

He He (1)

drspliff (652992) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648388)

He he.. Hey .. Bevis.. He He.. Pull My Finger!

Nuff said!

Overkill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15648389)

and even to assist military doctors treating soldiers remotely by recreating bile, blood or urine odours that might help a diagnosis.

Surely if these can be measured it will be less complicated to produce a bar graph of the scent categories that can be read, or even auto-interpreted (e.g. this smell + this smell + this smell = cancer).

I can't imagine a medical situation that could be diagnosed by smell that couldn't be quantified. On the other hand IMNAD so please let me know if I'm wrong.

Smellovision (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15648394)

Ok, the ability to artificially record and reproduce smells is really cool.
Smellovision is not.

By the way, smells were used with some movies before I was even born. They failed utterly. Apparently they couldn't ventilate the theaters fast enough and they were stench pits before the first intermission. Somebody recently tried to add smells to the web. That also failed. I'm guessing that the same reason may have had something to do with it. But that's just a guess.

Now a more domestic use, would be more like current sensory recordings. Picture a rose, smell a rose. Picture the Corpsebloom, smell something that makes you want to throw up. But have it under the users control and limited in scope, not a moronic director or ad exec ideas of what they want. Our houses would be unlivable if they had their way. And if a prick added it to phones (nobody knows why anyone would do that) can you imagine the prank calls you'd get...

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, except when the transmission gets corrupted and makes it smell like burnt cookies.

Dot Com? (1, Redundant)

dcapel (913969) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648400)

Was there not a famous dot com company that bombed trying to use this idea?

Anything that has dot bombed increased my BS-o-meter level.

so what's next? (1)

navsan (953406) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648403)

@sumdumass That won't work. The chemicals that are used to recreate the smells are probably themselves as expensive. After all they are "perfumes" too. I wonder if the smell will last for some time. That could be, in a way, disastrous to channel surfing on TV. Also would this mean that new media codecs will come into existence to standardize this? Will there be a flurry of copyrights for all kinds of smell? Would these allow the reproduction of smells for purposes other than digital entertainment? And what about new portable players like "iSmell"? And think about making "avatars" that even smell like you! I am sure lots of people like me are going to block it just like popups and only allow them through when it's something like my mom's cookies.

Re:so what's next? (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648606)

@sumdumass That won't work. The chemicals that are used to recreate the smells are probably themselves as expensive. After all they are "perfumes" too.

Well, then all forms of carbon should be too expensive to use anywhere - after all nanotubes are made of the stuff.
Perfumes are compositions of prefabricared standard odors. The exact composition is created by highly paid, highly trained artisans. The raw material is not that expensive; what you're paying for is development costs and exclusivity.

Awesome (0)

gunfunny (708818) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648412)

I can record the smell of my farts so my buddies can smell them when they gety home!

Thanks Emeril! (1)

Arcaeris (311424) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648424)

Now I finally can complain to my cable company that I don't have smell-o-vision!

BAM!

Now if I could only figure out these knobs...

Fragrance industry's nightmare? (4, Interesting)

lamasquerade (172547) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648432)

"...allowing you to sniff foods or fragrances before you buy..."

I would have thought this kind of tech would be as much a nightmare for the fragrance industry (perfumes etc.) as easy and cheap reproduction of music is for the music industry.

Like the music industry the fragrance industry is selling something fairly low on utilitarian value, and very high in 'cool' (or sign) value. With the music industry people figured out some time ago that the actual product could be attained without the charge. In the fragrance industry, which is so reliant on sign value over use value that you don't even see or hear references to the supposed use value in advertisements (e.g. "CK One smells so good..."), I can imagine that they would really not want to make use of this technology. They'd want to keep the 'mystique' that surrounds the industry and probably would trot out a line like "Our fragrances are so complex and use the purest hopogo-oil and other exotic ingredients which simply can't be replicated by nasty chemicals".

It's also similar to the challenge that hopefully the diamond industry will face some day, when synthetic diamonds become acceptable to the idiots that pay for real ones. A bit of a waste of technology, but anything that causes less money to flow into these cesspools of human idiocy the better. But IMO, it won't happen with fragrances, really these companies don't even sell the barest shred of a product, just the image, so tech can't really bring them to their knees. Diamonds and music are different while still relying on sign value - you do get something in the end, and if it serves it's main purpose just as well (looking expensive/sounding cool) then the consumer will probably go to the cheaper source.

Re:Fragrance industry's nightmare? [OT - diamonds] (1)

Tim Colgate (519024) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648629)

It's also similar to the challenge that hopefully the diamond industry will face some day, when synthetic diamonds become acceptable to the idiots that pay for real ones. A bit of a waste of technology, but anything that causes less money to flow into these cesspools of human idiocy the better. But IMO, it won't happen with fragrances, really these companies don't even sell the barest shred of a product, just the image, so tech can't really bring them to their knees. Diamonds and music are different while still relying on sign value - you do get something in the end, and if it serves it's main purpose just as well (looking expensive/sounding cool) then the consumer will probably go to the cheaper source.

Fake diamonds are already here [wired.com] . De Beers are trying to counteract the "problem" by saying things like:

"If people really love each other, then they give each other the real stone," ... "It is not a symbol of eternal love if it is something that was created last week."

If this takes off... (1)

NexFlamma (919608) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648433)

... which I don't think it will, I can only imagine the horrors of playing through a game like Doom 3 with this sort of thing added in. It's bad enough that I have to see the terrible creatures of hell as I cut them to pieces with my chaingun, but I can only wince in fear at what they must smell like.

And, for that matter, this is going to require yet another PCI card, isn't it? Like I have all that many slots left after putting 2 GPU's, a PPU and a sound card in!

Re:If this takes off... (1)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648473)

I don't see it using PCI. Low overhead and the need to be near the user makes me think a drive bay is more likely.

Re:If this takes off... (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648638)

So I'll just have to figure out how to fit a HD-DVD burner, a BluRay burner, a 89-way card reader and a stenchotron into my shuttle PC...

AMD should ramp this up (2, Funny)

IlliniECE (970260) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648437)

Using our NextGen microFartchitecture, we were able to process 4 smells a second, including the one of an old AMD cpu with the heatsink removed.

Education Applications (1)

the_mystic_on_slack (553010) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648442)

You know how you're always told, "Don't smell the test tubes directly!! Waft instead!" Well, wouldn't it be cool if instead of opening up a chemistry handbook, you could pull up a compound on a computer and as part of the entry it could generate its smell for you? It's a lot safer and a lot more practical than having kids huffing off a test tube to find out what the sulfur dioxide they just created smells like.

Re:Education Applications (1)

reason (39714) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648450)

Unfortunately, the only thing that's really going to smell like sulfur dioxide is sulfur dioxide.

Re:Education Applications (1)

the_mystic_on_slack (553010) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648492)

It was probably a bad example, but I'm sure there are cases where you wouldn't want to actually inhale the gas because it's toxic, but it could be educational (and possible) to recreate the smell using other non-toxic compounds?

Re:Education Applications (3, Interesting)

munpfazy (694689) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648624)

It was probably a bad example, but I'm sure there are cases where you wouldn't want to actually inhale the gas because it's toxic, but it could be educational (and possible) to recreate the smell using other non-toxic compounds?


Not a bad idea. You could imagine using the same technique to train soldiers to detect chemical agents, or to train emergency response workers to detect chemical hazards. I sure as hell wouldn't want to be the fireman who has to search our lab after a major earthquake. I *know* what xenon difluoride and sulfuric acid smell like, and I'd still be scared to set foot in that place after a major shakeup.

The article makes it sound as though their device can hit 96 of 347 possible signatures. The question is whether it's possible to accurately reproduce the scent of dangerous substances with harmless ones. (I'm no biologist, much less an expert on olfaction - it could well be that the set of smells we actually encounter involve a much smaller basis that's spanned by the 96 already included.)

But, if you ask me, the "practical applications" the article mentions are still pretty far from practical. The only possibility that seems viable in the short term is being able to accurately reproduce a scent in order to add a single specific scent to an environment or product without spending hours of trial-and-error work in the lab. Bake fresh bread with a hundred slightly different recipes, find out which one is most appealing, and then copy it and add the smell to your vending-machine-biscuit production line. (I can only imagine that happens already, just less efficiently.)

By the time immersive virtual reality gets to a point where adding scent is anything but a dumb, distracting gimmick, I suggest that it will be far easier to throw a bit of scent directly at our brain rather than messing around with our noses.

Re:Education Applications (1)

Admiral Justin (628358) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648494)

Hey now, I smelled a LOT of chemicals during my chemistry studies, and they've had no ill effec... ...

I forgot what I was sayi... ...

Ooh, shiny!

VR (1)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648453)

This may have downsides, and will probably bomb, but I wish it would work well. We cannot have real VR, for games, movies, etc, without smell. Now all we need is particle systems that don't suck and some type of way to "feel" the world.

hackability (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648482)

i really don't want to get an email with a worm or virus that makes my cell phone/ computer smell like bayonne new jersey... or makes it produce sarin gas

Wipe out the planet by email (2, Insightful)

dindi (78034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648553)

..or a broadcast of a smell sample on national TV ...

Non toxic .. hmm well let's see how long it takes for some chemistry guru to create toxic or narcotic smells from those non-toxic materials ...

This is no surprise to you if you are over 3rd grade, and visited one single chemistry class, but here is a refresher : there are some very basic elements out there that are completely harmless until you start mixing them together ....

oh great i will be able to download a bunch of funky smells, or smell the rottening flash while playing doom ... or receive Pron spam with stuff that smells like sex ...

thanks but no thanks ....

Drugs anyone? (2, Funny)

keen (86192) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648582)

What about recording the smell of marijuana or cocaine and launching a massive Denial Of Service attack against Customs and the DEA?

Woot! I hope I can read Slashdot from my cell in Gitmo. :(

Re:Drugs anyone? (1)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 8 years ago | (#15648688)

Woot! I hope I can read Slashdot from my cell in Gitmo. :(

You can, but it'll have been 16 seconds since you hit 'reply'. Forever.

Good news everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15648652)

with this smell recorder/player I can finally finish the automatic object tracker for my smell-o-scope.
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