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Smell

Releasing scents during the projection of a film reportedly predates the introduction of sound. One early attempt at "Smell-O-Vision" involved a wad of cotton soaked in rose oil being placed in front of an electric fan during a newsreel in 1906, but despite such experiments, this is one technology that just hasn't taken off ... although the quest to add an extra olfactory experience to movies and, more recently, video games continues. This latest effort comes from French company Olf-Action which has created SMELLIT - a device designed to bring an aromatic dimension to your video game and movie experiences. Read More
Hong Kong-based Mint Urban Technologies has introduced an aromatic coffee lid for take-away cups which it claims improves the taste of coffee when drinking through the lid. The aroma is not "mint," as the company's ill-chosen name suggests, but an aromatic material formulated to enhance the bouquet of the coffee. The secret of the new Aroma Lid is in the plastic, according to Mint's Marc Miller. "Coffee lids block the aroma coming from the coffee," says Miller. "Because taste is 95 percent smell, the lids are stopping us from experiencing the full taste of our favorite morning brew." If the Aroma Lid can indeed enhance the taste of coffee, it could be a significant product - the take-away coffee industry uses 100 billion lids every year. Read More
While people may have laughed at the mechanical-nose-bearing Odoradar device that Elmer Fudd once used to track Bugs Bunny, the development of real devices that can "smell" recently took a step forward, as researchers from the University of Pennsylvania grafted olfactory receptor proteins onto carbon nanotubes. These proteins are ordinarily located on the outer membrane of cells within the nose. When chemicals that enter the nose bind with the proteins, a cellular response is triggered, that leads to the perception of smell. It is hoped that a synthetic version of that same response could be possible, within sensing devices incorporating the nanotubes. Read More
When we think of robots, we tend to think of clean, antiseptic automatons that don’t suffer from yucky things like halitosis, flatulence or body odor ... unlike us humans. According to London designer Kevin Grennan, however, this difference alienates us from robots, and will keep us from ever fully accepting them as anything other than machines. His solution? Robots that secret human odors, in situations in which people would secrete those odors. While some of his odor-secreting devices are purely conceptual, he has produced a working model of at least one – a sweating robotic armpit. Read More
So far as television goes, we're pretty spoilt these days. We can now watch in 3D if we want to, on a screen that is far too big for the once traditional corner-of-the-room placement, and we can also listen to heart-stopping surround sound audio - but there's still more sensory enjoyment to come. Researchers have now managed to create a proof of concept Smell-o-Vision device potentially capable of pumping out thousands of different odors, yet small enough to fit behind a TV. Read More
Being able to quickly confirm the presence of infectious bacteria in a patient’s bloodstream, and then identifying the specific species and strain, can make the difference between life and death for that patient. While traditional detection and identification methods are fairly accurate, they can also take too long to perform. A chemist from the University of Illinois, however, has developed an inexpensive new system that is much quicker – and it works by sniffing out the harmful bacteria. Read More
Nanotechnology has made huge advances possible in a variety of scientific fields, but the average non-scientist may particularly appreciate one of its latest applications – eliminating foul odors. In recent tests conducted by scientists from the University of Florida, copper-coated silica nanoparticles were shown to be up to twice as effective as activated carbon for neutralizing ethyl mercaptan, which is the stinky ingredient in natural gas. Read More
Retailers, hotels and real estate agents have been using aromas to entice us to part with our cash for years now and there have even been a few attempts to transmit smells via the internet and mobile phones. California-based company Scent Sciences is now looking to bring an olfactory dimension to computer games with its ScentScape personal digital scent delivery system. Read More
Making perfume is an art, and you can’t objectively break art down into its individual components... right? In the case of perfume, it appears that perhaps you can. Dr. Alirío Rodrigues, a chemical engineer at Portugal’s University of Porto, has devised a system called Perfumery Radar (PR). It is able to analyze the odor of perfumes, and map out what scents are present, and in what proportions. Read More
If there’s one thing that most of us know about sharks, besides the fact that they occasionally bite people, it’s that they have a fantastic sense of smell - some sharks can smell a single drop of blood within a million drops of water. How do they do it? That’s what British scientists are trying to find out... and their discoveries could be applied to human technology. Read More
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