Smell: Digital

As we sit at our computers, we’re using e-mail, e-commerce, maybe even doing some e-trading. Well, how about e-smelling? A new computer device is about to bring a digital experience to your nose. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont.

“You’ll be able to go to a menu where there’s say, an icon of an orange, or a chocolate bar, a new car, anything like that, you click on the odor of a new car, you know that very distinctive odor, the odor of an orange, or you can blend them.”

A computerized fragrance device is being developed by a company called Digi-Scents, with help from Stuart Firestein, an expert on the sense of smell at Columbia University.

“The idea would be to have a box about the size of a small speaker that would be connected to your computer and within that box is this cartridge of odors, having a hundred different small chambers in it, and then on command from the computer, you can choose various odors within that hundred, to be mixed up together and then puffed gently out of this port where you can smell it.”

The cartridge will contain chemicals — either natural oils or synthetic fragrances — that will be activated by either heat or air pressure, when you send a signal from your computer. The digital smell device could add another sensory dimension to the sights and sounds of a computer game.

“The idea that you could be driving on a race track and take a turn at high speed and smell burning rubber, I guess, has a special attraction to a certain group, although I can’t say I’m one of them.”

And yes, you’d be able to e-mail odors to other people as long as they have the digital smell device on their end, to access the smell. The computer smell device is expected to be on the market sometime this year. Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Smell: Digital

A new device that you can attach to your computer will allow you to program smells to puff out into the room or e-mail to friends.
Air Date:05/26/2000
Scientist:
Transcript:

As we sit at our computers, we're using e-mail, e-commerce, maybe even doing some e-trading. Well, how about e-smelling? A new computer device is about to bring a digital experience to your nose. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont.

"You'll be able to go to a menu where there's say, an icon of an orange, or a chocolate bar, a new car, anything like that, you click on the odor of a new car, you know that very distinctive odor, the odor of an orange, or you can blend them."

A computerized fragrance device is being developed by a company called Digi-Scents, with help from Stuart Firestein, an expert on the sense of smell at Columbia University.

"The idea would be to have a box about the size of a small speaker that would be connected to your computer and within that box is this cartridge of odors, having a hundred different small chambers in it, and then on command from the computer, you can choose various odors within that hundred, to be mixed up together and then puffed gently out of this port where you can smell it."

The cartridge will contain chemicals -- either natural oils or synthetic fragrances -- that will be activated by either heat or air pressure, when you send a signal from your computer. The digital smell device could add another sensory dimension to the sights and sounds of a computer game.

"The idea that you could be driving on a race track and take a turn at high speed and smell burning rubber, I guess, has a special attraction to a certain group, although I can't say I'm one of them."

And yes, you'd be able to e-mail odors to other people as long as they have the digital smell device on their end, to access the smell. The computer smell device is expected to be on the market sometime this year. Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.