October 27, 2000
12:26 AM   Subscribe

It's been a standing joke for decades, but it's finally arrived. Smellovision is real. (I'm having a hard time thinking of a more useless computer peripheral.)
posted by Steven Den Beste (14 comments total)
I actually first heard about this about 9 months ago, and at the time I thought it was a hoax.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 12:27 AM on October 27, 2000

Did somebody say "useless computer peripheral?"
posted by allaboutgeorge at 1:17 AM on October 27, 2000

Not nearly as impressed by that as i am with some of the tactile feedback technology...wonder if they will have a version for handhelds? Your cell phone even...

"Excuse me...*sniff* i think i have a phone call."
posted by th3ph17 at 2:39 AM on October 27, 2000

Yes, definitely an exciting advance in solving a non-problem.

posted by lagado at 4:26 AM on October 27, 2000

I disagree with you on this one, Steven. I think the iSmell is a terrific idea - we've come a long way since the scratch and sniff card packaged with Infocom's Leather Goddesses of Phobos, no?

The commercial applications for the iSmell (what an awful name) are astounding. Go to a car site, get new car smell. Go to Webvan, smell the food. I think that's pretty slick.

Personal applications? Still there. You can make your own smells from the 128 base odors. Go to my site, smell cucumbers and popcorn. Imagine. ::cough::

The problems are pointed out in the article: chicken v. egg. They might have to offer the unit at no cost or very low cost just to get a base out there, and then launch the heck out of the thing. If it's a USB peripheral and pretty cheap, I don't see why Joe Computer User wouldn't buy it - especially if it includes, say, a CD of smells.

Smell, touch, and taste are still out there for the PC to tackle. Though I don't know if I want to buy the iLick, or iFinger.
posted by hijinx at 4:26 AM on October 27, 2000

Smells are very personal things...imagine hitting someone's homepage that has a SMELL embedded instead of a MIDI of Stairway to Heaven. Does that sound Nice?

Perfume banner-ads that release a scent that is Close, but not quite?

Smell h@cK3rs?

Applying it to video games sounds likely...the smell of rocket fuel and gunpowder and blood mixed with 3-d sound could get really interesting, and i'm sure the Porn industry can think of something to do with it..."These iSmells rated R"

Am i just a party-pooper? To think this is just awful and stupid? Someone convince me that i need this product?
posted by th3ph17 at 4:40 AM on October 27, 2000

Listen, this thing is just vaporware...

sorry ;-j

if this was truly a viable technology it would have seen far greater application in shopping mall displays and movie theatres long before this consumer computer peripheral thing.

the fundamental assumption here is that you can reproduce a reasonable "gamut" of smells with 128 primary smells.

Maybe its possible but I'm skeptical.
posted by lagado at 4:56 AM on October 27, 2000

If it can do an acceptable coonawarra cabernet merlot, then I'll buy it
posted by lagado at 4:59 AM on October 27, 2000

i'm trying very hard not to image what the stile project webpage would smell like.
posted by lescour at 8:19 AM on October 27, 2000

the would be imagine. silly me.
posted by lescour at 8:19 AM on October 27, 2000

Smell Hax0rs. hehe. "Let's give these corporate fuckers some rotten-egg smell!"
posted by Succa at 10:12 AM on October 27, 2000

I think the whole idea of computer generated odors is absurd. Fragrance requires far more precision than, say, color. If a picture of a rose is a little too red, it's still a rose, but if the fragrance of a rose is off, then who knows what it might be interpreted as.

Sight and sound are far diferent from smell. Sight and sound involve varying the properties of a single medium (light and air respectively), but each individual scent involves the presence of actual molecules of the "smelly" item. I just don't believe this is something that can be accomplished digitally. (And certainly not with any combination of 128 scents.)

Then there's the tolerance we build up for odors. After surfing the web for 15 minutes or so, could you still actually smell anything? And where do those odors go when you move to a new site? Do they just build up around you? (Kinda' like walking throught the fragerance aisle of your local department store and getting sprayed with every scent along the way. YUCK!)

Besides, there are things in Cyberspace that are alot more interesting to look at without the benefit of smell!
posted by jaz at 10:41 AM on October 27, 2000

Wake me up when FoodTV supports this technology.
posted by harmful at 10:51 AM on October 27, 2000

When the iSmell first came to my attention (I think it was actually here, but I'm not sure) I signed up for the developer's kit.

Just last week actually, I got an email reminding I hadn't properly followed through. I have to fax them information, and I don't have easy access to a fax machine.

When it first popped up, I looked into it fairly in-depth (Anyone know if they've gotten the Snortal up yet?) and there were some reviews out there that made me think they've at least got the 128 base smells down. The one that immediately comes to mind is about fresh oranges.

I say the same thing I said before, if this can get me the smell of freshly-cut grass in the middle of February, it's worth my money.
posted by cCranium at 11:51 AM on October 27, 2000

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