As an idea, this one is really on the nose : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

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As an idea, this one is really on the nose

First came scratch-and-sniff marketing. So is it any wonder that in this era of regular technology upgrades, an American inventor wants you to click and smell - or, if you're so inclined, click and taste.

Mr Ellwood Ivey Jr's company, TriSenx, has patented a technology that uses a desktop printer-like device to produce smells based on data programmed into a Web page, essentially allowing a user to download a smell or taste from the Internet.

The scent technology, which several companies have been developing in various permutations, works by mixing several base chemicals that emit the desired smell. The result: a rose is a rose, even when its scent is a digitised simulation delivered through the Net.

Asked to demonstrate the system, TriSenx's chairman and chief executive leaps to his computer, loads the company's Web page and clicks to the demo section.

First up, a strawberry. A sheet of gold adhesive paper slides into the FirstSENX machine and emerges with a picture of a strawberry. "Here you go. Smell this," he offers.

It smells like a strawberry. He prints another and licks it. Tastes like it, too, he says. Next comes a cup of cappuccino that he says tastes like the real thing; and then a perfume that has a rather harsh aroma.

The smells are attached to a fibre card-stock paper and, in coming months, to a communion-like wafer that would allow people to taste a particular flavour. Mr Ivey anticipates a day when smells become as common as the audio already found on innumerable personal and commercial Web pages.

It wasn't that long ago when naysayers had plenty of criticisms concerning sound on the Web, Mr Ivey said. But not everyone is so sure the smell technology is analogous to audio, at least right now.

If "they can drive the cost down to where it comes bundled with your new computer, then it might become popular," said Mr Ullas Naik, an e-commerce analyst with US-based FAC Equities.

"But if it's going to be a couple of hundred bucks, I'd be hard pressed to see who's going to go out and buy a smell generator." But for the longer term, five years or more, online scent could become popular if Web designers and computer makers push it, Mr Naik said.

TriSenx's smells come from water-based chemicals and all are generic, "to keep it simple," Mr Ivey says. The device can simulate the interior odour of a brand new car, but cannot reproduce the precise aroma of a certain model of car.

"We're not into the protein level of molecule modelling. We think that will run into a problem later when it comes to proprietary issues, and it gets expensive," he said. "It's very, very cumbersome. We believe in being as simple as possible."

TriSenx's $US398 FirstSENX device was being shipped the last week of April. Mr Ivey said the company had received about 50 orders so far.

Several other firms hope to develop the field of online smell into the next big thing. In Silicon Valley, DigiScents is working on a smell box it calls iSmell, a device which reads a digital scent file from a Web site, creates a smell from a "palette" of 128 chemicals stored in a cartridge, and then wafts it into the air with a small fan. has a device called Pinoke that dispenses smells coinciding with a player's action in a video game. A South Korean enterprise has also launched a product that enables smell for video games.

But where the others see hard-core video gamers as the key to making online smell a success, Mr Ivey believes business marketing applications are the way to go.

Three fragrance makers have licensed the technology for use in store kiosks. For instance, a digital camera will be able to take a person's picture, bring it up on a computer monitor that will show the user what a particular make-up would look like. Instead of paper strips with fragrances, the technology will allow merchants to combine a variety of cosmetics - perfumes, lipsticks, blush and mascara - at a kiosk, Mr Ivey said. Lollies and biscuits companies also have expressed interest in using the technology for samples, he said.

Before his thoughts turned to the commercial possibilities of online smell, Mr Ivey invented a device that attaches to a steering wheel to indicate when a driver is drunk. The sensor, the main product of Mr Ivey's other company, the DUIE Project, detects ethanol in the secretions from a person's hands.

Mr Ivey claimed his forays for Silicon Valley venture capital have been "very successful" although he declined to say how much money TriSenx raised in its first round of funding. He said the company will seek $US5 million ($8.6 million) to $US7 million in a second round of fund raising in May.

Internet smells catch many by surprise, with plenty more who doubt such technology exists. PR Newswire, which distributes corporate news to media outlets and other clients, demanded proof before it would file a release about the company's patent in February, Mr Ivey said.

The Wall Street Journal


A novel idea, I'm sure. Has rather quaint possibilities. If you can get a substance released by merely surfing along to, err..., let's see, a sex site, it ought to do wonders for the libidinous. What about gun lovers - legislate to allow the release of overwhelmingly mallowing scent everytime they itch. We ought to be able to scent the Liberal Party freakzz into oblivion by mere scent councilling - we've tried every other method to knock 'em out!

Regards from OZ

-- Pieter (, May 01, 2000


>We ought to be able to scent the Liberal Party freakzz into oblivion by mere scent councilling - we've tried every other method to knock 'em out!

Have you tried placing some Super Glue (or the Oz equalvalent) into their bicycle locks? That should keep them busy for awhile.

-- (, May 01, 2000.

I think you may find they are bicycle challenged. It's come with the (capital) territory and dwelling in trees. Most of 'em are only capable at uttering mono-syllables.

-- Pieter (, May 01, 2000.

Imagine the use of this technology the porn sites could have.

"Click here! Win a free TriSenx (TriSex?) printer!"

-- (sniffer@home.come), May 01, 2000.

...if you're so inclined, click and taste.

As intimate as it sometimes appears to be, I REFUSE to lick my computer! Eeeeeeyeeeeeeew!

-- LunaC (, May 01, 2000.

Just to be the wet blanket, I think this idea may be technologically feasible, but it's uneconomic. Few luxuries could be more of a frippery than this.

The chances that it might overcome the initial cost barrier and acquire a mass market are just about nil. Unless, of course, there is some sort of a breakthrough in the cost equation that has little to do with economies of scale, or unless it can piggyback itself onto a different technology that can acquire a mass market.

The idea has been there since Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World. We ain't there, yet.

-- Brian McLaughlin (, May 02, 2000.

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