Re: iSmell

Dan Brickley (
Thu, 14 Oct 1999 00:05:04 +0100 (BST)

On Wed, 13 Oct 1999, Manoj Kasichainula wrote:

> AFAICT, this is not a joke... It is armageddon. I'm curious
> what the variety of smells they'll be able to replicate. Do smells
> work like colors, with primary and secondary smells. Blah.
> And is up.

Maybe they'll be able to implement a subset of the old RealAroma hoax
( ) from 1996. Check out the realaroma
'developers page' for a list of odours we might hope to smell in v1.0.

Of course this was all pre-XML; can't be long before someone proposes a


RealAroma SystemSmells(C)
#900033 Ammonia
#6B4226 Apple Blossom
#70DB93 B.O. (Moderate)
#7093DB B.O. (NYC Taxi)
#FFFF00 Baby Sweat
#E47833 Bacon Frying
#4D4DFF Ballet Slipper
#CFB53B Banana
#D8D8BF Barbados (Ocean Front Condo)
#97694F Bass (Fresh Catch)
#9033DD Bleach
#C0D9D9 Blue Food
#856363 Bourbon
#DBDB70 Bread Baking
#8D0033 Burnt Hair
#4F2F4F Burnt Rubber
#FF1CAE Bus Exhaust
#D9D919 Buttered Popcorn

> Think The Internet Stinks? Try This
> By Andrew Quinn
> SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - If you think the Internet is in your face
> already, you haven't smelled anything yet.
> In a high-tech twist on the old ``scratch-and-sniff'' concept, a new
> company announced plans Wednesday to bring smells to the Internet with
> ``scent'' software and a plug-in device that buffets Web surfers with
> ``Smell-O-Vision.''
> Never mind that ``Aroma-Rama'' and its smelly ilk crashed and burned
> in American movie theaters in the 1950s. In an era when the Internet
> increasingly dominates the sights and sounds of entertainment, can
> smell be far behind? Not according to the founders of DigiScents, Inc.
> ``If we can find out the essence of a biological smell and make a
> profile of that smell, we should be able to digitize it and broadcast
> it,'' DigiScents President Dexster Smith told Reuters in an interview.
> ``We really feel we are in the ground floor of a new industry and art
> form. It is going to span a number of areas, entertainment,
> e-commerce, advertising and education.''
> Think this has the slight reek of a hoax about it? Well, guess again.
> Smith and his partner, Joel Bellenson, are proven high-tech
> entrepreneurs, having founded Pangea Systems Inc., an industry leader
> in providing software and technology to biotechnology and
> pharmaceutical companies.
> Their new venture has also earned the ultimate kudos for California's
> computer digerati -- a scratch-and-sniff cover story in the coming
> issue of Wired magazine.
> ``If this technology takes off, it's gonna launch the next Web
> revolution,'' Wired raved about the new product.
> Smith said the pair got the idea of wiring the Internet for smell
> during a vacation in Miami's vibrant South Beach.
> ``We were overwhelmed by the perfumes that people were wearing, all
> the sensory input,'' Smith said. ``We thought: This is a biological
> phenomenon, this is in our domain. We should be able to understand
> this and build a company out of it.''
> They quickly got building and soon the Oakland, California-based
> DigiScents had the concept down.
> First, there is the ``iSmell,'' a plug-in computer accessory that will
> contain a basic palette of scented oils from which a bouquet of
> different smells can be created.
> Functioning like the MP3 players that download music from the
> Internet, the iSmell will take its orders from DigiScent's
> ''ScentStream'' software, which will translate online digital cues for
> different smells into specific orders for the portable perfume
> factory.
> To ensure odor authenticity, DigiScent has created a ``Scent
> Registry,'' a digital index of thousands of scents that the company
> will license to developers to integrate into games, Web sites,
> advertisements, movies and music.
> To round it out, the company plans to create a ``Snortal'' on the Web
> to give people a chance to sniff for themselves.
> There is real science behind all this. Bellenson, who once ran a
> Stanford University lab specializing in DNA synthesis, has drawn up
> models for the way odor molecules bind with the some 10 million
> odor-detecting neurons on a human nose, a step toward establishing the
> Scent Registry that will underpin the concept.
> DigiScent's founders hope that by licensing their scent spectrum, they
> will create a world of smells for the Internet generation -- perfumes
> you can smell online, computer games with the whiff of the jungle or
> the tang of jet fuel, movies that give audiences the scents of an
> autumn bonfire.
> ``The sense of smell is closely tied to memory and emotion, making
> scent a powerful way to reinforce ideas,'' Bellenson said. ``If a
> picture is worth a thousand words, a scent is worth a thousand
> pictures.''
> Not that any of this is new, really. The American film industry
> pioneered olfactory entertainment in the late 1950s with
> ``Aroma-Rama'' and ``Smell-O-Vision,'' pumping smells through theater
> vents or releasing them from beneath audience seats.
> In 1981, filmmaker John Waters launched his movie ''Polyester'' with a
> scratch-and-sniff card dubbed ``Odorama.'' But American noses remained
> aloof to the idea that smell could be part of a fun evening out.
> Will DigiScents succeed where Smell-O-Vision failed? Smith and
> Bellenson are confident that Internet users, ever hungry for fresh
> stimuli, will embrace the iSmell.
> ``One of the big problems with the past has been implementation,''
> Smith said. ``If you are asking someone to do scratch and sniff, it is
> not going to be as compelling as if it is automated.''
> --
> Manoj Kasichainula - manojk at io dot com -
> "The deadliest bullshit is odorless and transparent." -- William Gibson