Take a whiff of this!

Posted on October 18, 2006

Close your eyes and think of two of your favorite smells.

NO WAIT! Close your eyes for three seconds and think of two of your favorite smells (I just thought "What if you never open your eyes ... you won't be able to read the rest of this."). For our hypothetical situation, I've decided to use my favorites: the smell of newly popped popcorn and regular scented Pine-Sol.

Now, imagine that the smells of these two items have been reversed. Now, as you're watching "Rocky 28," the paper cylindrical carton resting in your hand smells like you just cleaned the bathroom. This obviously is an unprecedented scent inside a movie theater. But then when you return home, your bathroom actually has a buttered popcorn odor so strong that you feel the urge to scrub the tub five more times.

Why the olfactory exercise? Scientists are working on producing manufacturing scents. I'm not just talking about the next perfume created by a teenie-bopper celebrity. Professor Takamichi Nakamoto at the Tokyo Institute of Technology is constructing a variety of devices that can produce hundreds of odors.

Ew, I can smell it now.

His team has built an odor recorder, which has the ability to "sniff" an object and reproduce the smell using a number of chemicals available. The prototype hasn't made it too far just yet; it can currently mimic apples, bananas, oranges and lemons, but it hasn't quite mastered popcorn or for that matter, Pine-Sol.

Just imagine where an aroma generator could lead us. It's feasible that identifiable scents could be placed on just about everything, including (gasp!) websites. That's right folks, hit Shift-Ctrl-P, and your machine will emit the smell of Hawaiian pineapples. Or is that Pine-Sol? Or parsley?

It may take awhile to perfect, but I'm starting to smell something interesting within the scent industry. As long as it's not burnt popcorn, I'm all for it.