Website pinpoints odors from around the world

Click to follow
The Independent Tech

A Japanese web site is pointing users in the direction of smells - both pleasant and not so pleasant - around the world.

And the operators of the "Nioi-bu" site, meaning Smell Club, believe that a new device being developed in Britain will soon enable them to deliver those very same smells to a computer anywhere in the world.

Launched in December last year, hundreds of odors have been linked to a Google map on the Nioi-bu site, ranging from a location in Chicago that is infused with the scent of roasted coffee to the soap sold at a monastery in Paris. One contributor has even pinpointed the sent left on the pillow by her boyfriend.

Less pleasant scents have also been identified, ranging from sour milk on a towel, human drool and the pungent feet of another contributor's husband.

More than 370 members - known as "smellists" - have joined the Japanese-language site, according Yuji Sakuma, a spokesman for the operator of the site, Kayac Inc.

The site has links to more than 200 odors, including "steam from a rice cooker" to "cow dung" and a combination of "incense, grass, dirt and wild dogs" in the Thai city of Ayuthaya.

"Smell is one of the five senses that everyone has and we had a very strong desire to let people explain or describe the things that they smell to everyone else, and that is hard to do with just words," said Sakuma.

"In Nioi-bu, a smell is described in the same way as a sommelier explains a wine, and that is recorded on our database," he said.

"Research suggests that smell is closely connected to our memories, meaning it acts as a kind of link to an earlier episode," he said. "We want to create a new community that can share those experiences."

But the ultimate ambition is to achieve smell marketing, adapting work presently going on at Birmingham University to release scents during the different phases of a video game.

The researchers use pots of paraffin wax that is laced with a variety of aromas that, when combined in different amounts, replicate a wide range of smells. The pots of wax are placed next to a fan attached to the computer and scents are automatically released under the player's nose at pre-arranged spots in the game.

JR

Comments