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Online Aromatherapy in Japan 144

prostoalex writes "USA Today has an article on Japanese telecom company delivering fragrances via the Internet. NTT Communications will send a combination of 36 scents through a crystal ball, which can be attached to a PC."
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Online Aromatherapy in Japan

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  • by fembots ( 753724 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @09:46PM (#11038192) Homepage
    This can be useful if you're browsing the net with a laptop in the toilet.

    With such a limited use (emitting scents), I wonder if the crystal ball would just come with the fortune-telling/aromatherapy software, which interacts with the ball locally, instead of going through the whole web thing.

    In the future, maybe a USB ice-cream maker which makes ice-cream of your choice, after you ordered it via Movenpick's website. Or a massaging chair that starts working on you after you have made the payment via PayPal?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @09:47PM (#11038211)
  • Wow! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Eric(b0mb)Dennis ( 629047 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @09:48PM (#11038213)
    Oh man.. I can't wait for this to go mainstream..

    Goober1: DOE IN HEET URINE LOL!!!
    Goober2: l0l n1ce one d00d

  • by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @09:48PM (#11038217) Homepage
    What's the point of hooking this device up to a PC? Why not, just, you know, use the device without a PC? What benefits does hooking it up to the PC bring?

    Let alone hooking it up to the Internet...

    • That would be #2 in the 3 point business plan.

      2. ?????
      • No, actually, it is quite simple. They want to make a hell of a lot extra money. The thing comes with all the oils available, they just won't let you use them. I doubt they will let you have any control over the software at all, actually.
        Why pay once when you can pay again and again and again?

        Oh, and I am going to predict that this company is going to freak out over any FOSS version which allows you to make the scents yourself, and use intellectual property laws to screw you over with something that's a
    • What's the point of hooking this device up to a PC? Why not, just, you know, use the device without a PC?

      Why not, just, you know, read the fucking article?
      • What's the point of hooking this device up to a PC? Why not, just, you know, use the device without a PC?

        Why not, just, you know, read the fucking article?

        Well, you know, I read the article and I was all, like, wow and stuff. Like, I can get smells beamed to me through the internet, and I was all, like, "Oh my gawd". So I called Suzie, 'n stuff. And she's a Pisces, and she loves the smell of lavender. So she was all like the Price is Right and stuff.

        But I still can't for the life of me figure out

  • by eeg3 ( 785382 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @09:49PM (#11038222) Homepage
    I'm sure it's much cheaper to go purchase incense from your local hippy.
  • when these catch on and we have to worry about stink viruses.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      So if they release the software that controls the scents, and it crashes constantly, would that make it a stink bug?
  • Finally! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by isny ( 681711 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @09:52PM (#11038239) Homepage
    A useful net product for most slashdotters!

    Damn...there goes my karma...
  • The horoscope reading and personalised scent thing sounds a bit bogus (i.e. dumb) to me, but I can see the potential if software makes could use a standardised set of "scents" which they mix to simulate smells in an environment.

    For example... if you had a VR program which showed a park scene, then you'd emit fresh nature smells. Driving gamers could get to smell the leather seats and burning rubber. Hardcore gamers might well smell blood, sweat and some other undescribables and they chase people around

    • I'd hate to have this thing hooked up when playing Leisure Suit Larry...

    • For example... if you had a VR program which showed a park scene, then you'd emit fresh nature smells. Driving gamers could get to smell the leather seats and burning rubber. Hardcore gamers might well smell blood, sweat and some other undescribables and they chase people around with their BFGs...

      Come on, think harder. I'm waiting for smellovision pr0n!
    • Yeah it would be all great untill those gamers mothers walked in to their room late one night and smelt sex all over the place. You can't alt+tab a smell.
  • by IO ERROR ( 128968 ) <> on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @09:52PM (#11038241) Homepage Journal
    This needs to be hacked. This REALLY needs to be hacked. I want to be able to download ANY smell I want, not just the ones they want me to have based on when my birthday is. (oops, I read the article again)
    • by Haydn Fenton ( 752330 ) <> on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @09:59PM (#11038277)
      I can remember a previously story pretty much the same as this one, the device contained a few scented oils, but as somebody pointed out in the comments, smells, like taste, cannot be mixed together to produce a unique smell/taste in the same way that light (colours) can. IIRC, smells and taste are dependant upon the shape of the molecules, and mixing different shaped molecules together doesn't create a molecule which has a new shape. IANAP, but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't work. So it wouldnt be able to be hacked for any smell.. but give it time, with technology increasing exponentially it won't be long before we're in the nano-tech era, or smaller, and we can probably shape the molecules ourselves.
      • So basically by the time we have digital scent devices we'll have something like a replicator.
      • mixing different shaped molecules together doesn't create a molecule which has a new shape

        I've read somewhere though that the nose has only ~20 different types of molecular receptors, and if you can control the stimulation of each type of receptor, then you can recreate any kind of scent (like the RGB of the eyes).

        • Did noone pay attention to this years' nobel prizes this year?

          Medicine was awarded for finally figuring out smell, and it turns out we have thousands of different receptors. Many of them may be activated by several different chemicals to varying degrres, and and a fragrance may contain any cocktail of those chemicals. In other words: no practical odor source can ever cover any significant part of the odor "space" unless it can produce arbitrary molecules on the fly.

          A neural interface would probably be ea
      • Yes, I saw a product like this one at the CeBIT expo a couple of years ago. It could only produce the smells that the inserted cartridges contained. So naah, no big hit there I guess.
      • I am not a perfumer but works with the best of them daily.

        "smells, like taste, cannot be mixed together to produce a unique smell/taste in the same way that light (colours) can."

        Wrong. All smells (and taste) are a combination of molecules.

        The best example can be found in citruses, all of these scents are very different but all are basically a lot of (+)-limonene and small amounts of other molecules, mostly aldehydes:

        • - the citrus scent, which you can simplify to a mix of (+)-limonene, 5%
  • iSmell (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DanteBlack ( 656808 )
    This remindes me of iSmell, a vapor ware (pardon the pun) from the dot com era. It'll be cool if they actually get it to work but the complexity of "making" scents leaves me wondering. The difficultly in mixing components for a visual response, paint for example, is hard enough. I'm just not sure it can be done, well that is, for the olphactory systems.
    • Re:iSmell (Score:2, Interesting)

      by shahruz ( 232959 )
      I remember there was an article in WIRED about that. Wasn't there? They called it DigiScent t. html
    • I think ITunes is a good name. Perhaps also... IRock, IAmDaKing, ISpy, IClaudius, IScore, ILoveGirls, IMurDaddy, and possible even IDance....

      But I will never want to be associate with a company called ISmell....and most certainly not IANAL.....and if they combine the two, IAMSOOUTTAHERE!

    • You've been waiting for months to use "olphactory" in a sentence, haven't you.
    • Sig: I am invisble, and you can't see me.

      No, but we can smell you...
    • I remember meeting the guys from iSmell at GDC, and at my insistence they added "rain on pavement" or something like that to their list of scents. I guess I really made an impression on them or something.
  • Then again (Score:4, Funny)

    by scenestar ( 828656 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @09:55PM (#11038253) Homepage Journal
    Cmmon people its japan. if its useless and has an extension cord theyll devellop and sell it
    • Not an extension cord, a USB cable []!
    • Seriously....this kind of insanity goes on here regularly. Now, if NTT wants to make it really take off, what they do is they make an imode version (Mobile phone internet version), and they have a small crystal ball that hangs off the phone as an accessory. Then you will continually have the annoying teenage (which in Japan is any girl under 30 despite what teenage means) crowd sniffing away like crazy on the trains.

      The only main benefit I can see about it, is it will at least cover up the strange Oji-san

  • by Kerhop ( 652872 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @09:58PM (#11038268)
    The product and the domain no longer exists, but HowStuffWorks still has an article [] about DigiScents. There was also Olfacom [] and iSmell [] that claimed to do the same.
    • DigiScents... ahh yes, fond memories. Back when I was a WiReD-reading bastard, I read about this company touting their "upcoming technology." I actually thought it was an interesting technology, and registered (I swear, your honor, it was only so that I could setup forums for people to discuss "digital scent" technology.)

      Instead, a few months later I sold it to DigiScents for $2000.

      I miss 1999... sniff sniff.
  • C'mon, seriously...why do you think they call it Longhorn? Did you think they wouldn't make their BS operating system smell accordingly? Remember, folks, if it attracts bugs, it must be a feature.

    As for the online feature, imagine the latest MSN Messenger function of poo-flinging across the net! Perfect for those bigwig conferences!! Marketing will have a field day with this, I'm sure.
  • Now there's an application. You can be like those Italian old ladies that smell everything they buy at the market (fruits, veggies, cold cuts, etc).
  • We're now sending scents over the internet, eh? Well, I believe it is only time until that HP commercial comes true and we can download baseball gloves and cameras, and simply print them out right away!

    It's also time to internet pirate smells.
  • except the crystal ball smells you!
  • BSOD (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Blue stench of death.
  • How odd (Score:3, Interesting)

    by smclean ( 521851 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @10:06PM (#11038322) Homepage
    I wonder how long it takes before the thing runs out of smell and needs smell recharge cartridges. It's not the smell printer that costs money you know, its the smell recharge cartridges.
  • It'd be nifty to hack something like this to hook in with something like an MP3 visualization (smellization?) plug-in to change the smells based on the characteristics of the audio.
  • by michaeldot ( 751590 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @10:11PM (#11038342)

    A scent deliverer is one thing, but a "scent scanner" would be interesting too.

    A device that could record in digital form what an environment smelt like, then it could be reproduced at a later time by something like the crystal ball thing in this article.

    The scent deliverer might have to get some more depth. Maybe it could be the next big evolution of output devices... For instance, visual displays (monitors) evolved from 1-bit (monochrome), to 8-bit (256 colors), then 16-bit (thousands of colors), up to the useful 24-bit (millions of colors).

    An olfactory delivery device could evolve from something like this crystal ball which might be at 4-bit (thirty something smells) at the moment, up to 16-bit (thousands of smells) in the near future.

    Build them into webcams, then geekettes would not only feel oblighed to wear makeup, they'd have to put on their perfume too! And geeks would have to shower more frequently...

    • If my memory serves me well, the nose have lots of different kinds of receptors. To simulate all kinds of smells you'd have to have a "generator" for each kind of receptor, wich, I'm afraid, would be quite unpractical and expensive to implement.

      A computer screen only have to generate three different kinds of light - specifically red, green and blue - because the eye only can see those colours. With varying intensity creating all the other hues.

      Oh I found a source:

      "It is thought that there are hundreds

    • It won't work unless it is bundled with a smell nullifier (i.e. high-powered filter) - smell molecules have a longer lifespan than the light from monitors, so you would get background noise in no time. (Think of it as an LCD screen with a responsiveness of 10-20 minutes).
      This is also necessary because there is whole lot of background noise in a typical situation. I have a really good sense of smell, and right now I can smell the wood of my desk, my leather chair, the plastics from my new router, the paint
    • If anyone builds those in web-cams... I already shudder in ph34r.

      _Some_ geeks have no qualms about stinking like a dug-up corpse in person at the office. And I don't mean as in "oh, it was summer and the poor guy got sweaty pulling some cable through the building", but as in "ye gods, the last time he looked like he's had a bath was in September, and he's been wearing the same shirt and pants ever since too. And that hair is not just dirty, it looks like a helmet already."

      Somehow I don't think they'll sta
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Love me.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Thought so. And that's why they went bankrupt.
  • first it was the nouse and now this. is everything moving from hands to nose?
  • As if we need to give cube mates some other bad habit to distract us with (where the first bad habit might be in { listening to something on the speakers with headphones on... but not plugged in, having intimate conversations with friends and loved ones 3 line-of-sight feet away, ...}.
  • Smell-O-Vision meets internet meets 2004. Marketing-droids that do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Or Something like that.
  • this could be applied to learining, both in the classroom, and now as this article shows, online.
    Smell is directly related to memory []
    The medial temporal lobe is known to play a role in the processing of olfaction and memory []
    To me, it certainly seems worth investigating.
  • I can get that burning capacitor smell from my PC just fine, thank you.
  • and only from Japan

    Find me a western company that makes products as insane or remotely close to this.
  • uh oh (Score:2, Funny)

    by Nykon ( 304003 )
    Great, I can only imagine the havoc when the "I just farted" hack allows you to send smells to your unknowing friends..
  • "In a test version, shown at a Tokyo electronics store this week, the crystal ball sends combinations of 36 scents -- natural oils, such as eucalyptus, sandalwood and basil -- as horoscope readings."
    36 scents I don't think I would pay that much. Would you?
  • Smell is one of the few reasons left to shop offline. Why go to the mall if you can smell the candles or the perfume? This is just another small step in the progression towards a virtual society. The web has become a commerce network by all rights (remember when it was fun?).

    It's too bad that the driving force behind the technological development of the web surfing experience is pure capitalism.
  • I wonder when we'll see this used to augment recall / retention of information? It's been shown that the association between information and scent is a powerful one, and it may tap into state-dependent learning. e.g. I learn calculus on my PC by researching and maybe looking at the class notes. I do so with the ball set to "vanilla". I then walk into my calculus exam the next day or week with a vanilla bean or some artificial vanilla scent. I then take the exam and experience a lift in information retr

  • Kick it up a notch, now Emeril has his Smellivision. Has there ever been a more annoying TV personality or moronic zombie audience?
    • Kick it up a notch, now Emeril has his Smellivision. Has there ever been a more annoying TV personality or moronic zombie audience?

      repeat after me ... reality ... TV ... shows

      At least after watching Emeril I don't have fewer neurons and I might have learned to do something.

      • I guess I should have written "moronic live studio audience". Emeril's truly Troll-like in appearance, he should probably get together with Rachel Ray.
    • Sure! A two-way tie between Rachael Ray and Bobby Flay!

      Man, as I get older my references become less and less cool...
  • Is bullshit one of the scents this crystal ball delivers?

    It would almost have to be since that is what they are selling you.
  • I forsee the first game using it will be a text adventure game called, "Tour":

    You find yourself in a large pine forest. The ground is thickly covered with freshly crushed needles. [pssst]

    You see a river to the East.
    You see a large clearing to the North.

    > E

    You have wandered down into a grotto with a wild, frothy river bounding along besides you. [pssst] A large cliff blocks your way to the South.

    > W

    Pine Forest

    > verbose

    Maximum Verbosity.

    You find yourself in a large pine forest, overfl
  • Could this be done for movie theaters? Like when Han, Leia and Luke fall in the trash compactor, and Han say's "What a wonderful smell you discovered!" We would "discover" it too! But, then real LOTR's people would have to figure out how long it should last after they left the compactor considering that Luke was totally dunked in it and so you would need to have this slightly disgusting smell for most of the rest of the movie which might make some people sick. And then you'd have to add yet another five
    • This was done in a theatre where a friend of mine works. It really didnt work because the audience didnt concentrate on smelling. Also you dont get rid of the smell inside the theatre that quickly....

      So it wont work for a large audience. Perhabs nose-plugs for the visitor... which i would not use...
  • will send a combination of 36 scents through a crystal ball, which can be attached to a PC

    Unlike the average slashdotter who, when attached to PC, only produces one scent...

  • "HBO (Home Body Odor) announced today it has agreed to screen John Waters' infamous film, Polyester, [] in Odorama []. Viewers who wish to view, er, smell the picture in its original Odorama format will need to purchase the latest set-top box from MicroStink containing the latest https:// (HTTP that Stinks) extensions.
  • I'm surprised the adult industry didn't come out with this first. Just imagine the possibilities!
  • Circulated on usenet about 8 or 9 years ago: Move over RealAudio, because RealAroma has arrived...
  • by echocharlie ( 715022 ) on Thursday December 09, 2004 @10:06AM (#11041480) Homepage
    Anyone watch the Futurama episode entitled A Big Piece of Garbage []?

    In it, the Professor uses his invention, the Smelloscope, to locate a huge meteor composed of garbage (produced by New New York and launched into space because the landfills were full) that threatens to destroy the planet (spoofing the movie, Armageddon). This leads to quotes like these:

    Fry: Hey, as long as you don't make me smell Uranus. (laughs)
    Leela: I don't get it.
    Professor: I'm sorry, Fry, but astronomers renamed Uranus in 2620 to end that stupid joke once and for all.
    Fry: Oh. What's it called now?
    Professor: Urectum. Here, let me locate it for you.
    Fry: Hehe, no, no, I think I'll just smell around a bit over here.

    Ahh... Futurama, it was ahead of its time.
  • Somebody's gotta start on writing a driver for /dev/smell0

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain