Wednesday, July 12, 2006
By HANS GREIMEL, Associated Press Writer
TOKYO People stopping to smell the roses might soon take that sweet floral fragrance home with them or even send it to a faraway grandmother.
Scientists at the Tokyo Institute of Technology are developing a gadget that promises to record and replicate the world's odors.
The device analyzes smells through 15 sensors, records the odor's recipe in digital format and then reproduces the scent by mixing 96 chemicals and vaporizing the result.
Creator Takamichi Nakamoto says the technology will have applications in the food and fragrance industries, where companies want to replicate odors.
But it could also allow smells to be recorded in one place _ by sensors in a mobile phone, for instance _ and transmitted digitally to appreciative noses halfway around the world. Online shoppers might perhaps check out perfumes or flowers before they buy.
Nakamoto said his smell recorder has successfully recreated a range of fruit smells, including oranges, bananas and lemons, but can be reprogrammed to produce almost any odor _ from old fish to gasoline.
Nakamoto says his machine, in the works since 1999, is the most advance of its kind in the world, though a similar project is also underway at Keio University, also in Japan.
(Story continues below)
But so far, the 3-feet-by-2-feet device is too big to be portable.
The breakthrough follows on the heels of a Japanese smellovision project that synchronized smells to movie scenes. That odorous endeavor was undertaken by NTT Communications Corp. and emitted smells from under seats in two movie theaters to accompany parts of the film"The New World,"a Hollywood adventure film.
The NTT project, though, was about reproducing smells rather than recording them as well.
U.S. startups have developed similar technologies before, although at least one company had to shut down during the dot-com bust.
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.