From the archive, originally posted by: [ mmm ]

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/techinnovations/2006-07-11-japanese-smell-device_x.htm?POE=TECISVA

Japanese gadget records, replicates odor
By HANS GREIMEL, Associated Press Writer

TOKYO – People stopping to smell the roses can now take that sweet floral
fragrance home with them or even send it to a faraway grandmother thanks to
a new gadget in Japan that records and replicates the world’s odors.

The new device, developed by scientists at the Tokyo Institute of
Technology, 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
food and fragrance industries where companies want to replicate odors. But
it could also be a boon for the digital world, allowing smells can be
recorded in one place â by sensors in a mobile phone, for instance â and
transmitted to appreciative noses halfway around the world.

It could also aid online shoppers by letting people check out perfumes or
flowers before they buy.

“The sensitivity of the human nose is very good,” Nakamoto said. “But to
some extent we can replicate the performance.”

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.

But so far, the machine is too big to be portable â it measures about the 1
meter by 3 feet by 2 feet.

Still, the breakthrough follows on the heels of a Japanese smellovision
project that synchronized smells to movie scenes. That odorous endeveor 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.

Nakamoto’s smell recorder has successfully recreated a range of fruit
smells, including oranges, apples, bananas and lemons, but can be
reprogrammed to produce almost any odor â from old fish to gasoline, he
said.

Making the 15 sensor chips, which pick up aromas and convert them to a
digital formula, was the hardest part, Nakamoto added.

But the unit’s large size is also limitation because the 96 odor-forming
chemicals are contained in separate glass bottles. A more compact version,
which includes only the sensors, can record smells but must be hooked up to
the blender to regenerate them.

“We also want extend the range of smells, and then we can think about
commercializing the system,” Nakamoto said.

Nakamoto’s team of 12 scientists have been collaborating with a Japanese
perfume company that produces the raw ingredients for fragrances and with
electronics companies interested in the sensor chip technology.