Every time you blink, someone is forming an Internet company somewhere in the world. That is the pace at which the Internet fever has caught on with people. They could be young college students with dreams of making a fortune or middle-aged individuals trying to lure the goddess of wealth. Each one is searching for the one great idea that could make his web company click in a big way. And they are trying all sorts of gimmicks to attract people towards their websites.

A Smelly New World on the Web [Illustration by Sudheer Nath]
A Smelly New World on the Web [Illustration by Sudheer Nath]

While some websites offer sounds, animation and dazzling graphics on screen to make their sites almost a movie-like experience for the viewer, others provide free downloads and contests.

A company based in California, US, has decided to offer online smells to people who visit its website. That is, if a pizza image comes on screen your nostrils will catch the smell of baked bread and gooey cheese! All you need to do is attach a device called ‘iSmell’ to your computer. This smart little device, created by the company, contains some chemicals, which when combined in different proportions, can create a huge variety of smells.

The company has invented software that converts the complex chemical composition of different smells into digital signals. An onscreen image, which is programmed with the appropriate digital signal, will activate the ‘iSmell’ device. The device will use the software to reconvert the digital signal and release the correct smell. This gadget reads the digital scent code from the website and creates the corresponding smell from its store of chemicals. This smell is then made to waft in the direction of the user with the aid of a small fan.

To ensure that the correct smell is released, the company has created a ‘Scent Registry,’ which contains a digital index of thousands of scents. The company plans to permit website developers to integrate the appropriate smells (in digital code) to their games and images. The company is also hoping that Hollywood filmmakers will incorporate the smell technology in their movies. Imagine audiences getting the smell of rocket fuel as a spacecraft takes off on the cinema screen! Of course, filmmakers will have to be careful not to shoot in dirty neighbourhoods, which has a lot of rubbish lying around.

388 words | 3 minutes
Readability: Grade 9 (14-15 year old children)
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

Filed under: science news
Tags: #internet, #signals, #software, #chemicals, #scent, #smell

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