Viridian Note 00408: Clouds of Scent
- Key concepts
- Viridian Aromatizer Contest, public
- Attention Conservation Notice:
- Even more
rapidly accumulating entries in the Viridian
Aromatizer Contest. Special bonus non-sequitur:
lots of astonishing pictures from NASA.
Bored by daffy contests? Well, try watching
these remarkable clouds. Did you ever wonder
just how weird our planet's clouds can get
when the weather is unbelievably strange?
Imagine stepping into the street to pick up
some groceries and eyeballing one of these babies.
New Entries in the Viridian Aromatizer Contest:
The Viridian Contest Repository.
(Stefan Jones of the Viridian Curia)
As a prospective dog owner, I'm reading lots of books
on training canines.
They all have a heavy emphasis on establishing
communication with your pet, whether it be with a
swift yank of a choke chain or carefully pitched
With the Aromatizer, you send messages tailored
for your pet's greatest sensory asset.
It would take the form of a bluetooth-equipped gadget
that clips to a collar or harness.
A control box, perhaps with a wrist strap, would be
wielded by the trainer.
The doggy part of the system would waft out microscopic
puffs of odor on command. Some smells would be
unpleasant, and obviously used to indicate displeasure.
Some would be pleasant (from the point of view of a
dog), to use as a reward.
A combination of gesture, vocal command, and scent
would make the trainer's intentions much less
From: gregg*haxan.com (Gregg Hale)
Use the aromatizer to tell you the weather while you
check your email: smell of sunscreen means day will be
sunny, smell of wet pavement means bring your umbrella.
(More entries from Skip Mendler of the
Ready for more, oh most melli-aromal of Pope-Emperors?
As M. Proust famously demonstrated, a scent can
set off a complex series of conscious and subconscious
associations. The Aromatizer's recording
function could be used as a kind of memo pad,
if one remembers to record the scent of a particular
moment. One might use the scent later to help
recall. Students might key various bits of info
to particular scents, and then use the scents to
help them recall the info at exam time.
One would also expect the Aromatizer to accelerate
the scientific study of what is now called
aromatherapy, and make it a much more exact practice;
we might find the particular scent that triggers
the hormonal sequence that results in feelings of
confidence, say, which might come in handy right
before you make That Big Presentation. Other
specifically engineered scents might be found that
heighten one's mental acuity, one's pattern recognition
abilities, or any of ther myriad intelligences...
(((Oh yeah. Sure.)))
And don't forget the battlefield uses – spreading the Smell of Fear among the enemy – and the converse
usage, foreseen by John Brunner in Stand on Zanzibar, a scent that renders opponents – friendly...
1984+20 Project: www.1984plus20.org
From: viridian*beegle.org (Willie Beegle)
Some new cars are coming with GPS and navigation
systems. The newest ones also sometimes detect
real-time changes in traffic. Imagine a device that
emits a slightly unpleasant smell (hot asphalt,
perhaps) when a traffic jam or detour is detected
ahead. Also, perhaps the "check engine" light could
be combined with a "check engine" smell.
For a car, the scent cartridges will be a particular
problem. Suggestion: ensure that the cartridges
last at least 3000 miles, then make deals with the
dealership and Jiffy Lube to offer cartridge refills
with every oil change.
A device that checks the weather, or stock reports,
or other interesting things and fires a "status"
smell every hour. Perhaps a salty "beach" smell
when it's hot and sunny, a "rain" smell when it's
overcast, and a peppermint smell when it's cold.
You could measure the same sort of things that
the Ambient Orb does.
An email plug-in (that only works when the email
client is running) that fires when an "urgent" email
goes unread for more than 30 minutes (or whatever
time you configure). Perhaps a gasoline smell
("potentially explosive situation") could be used.
Similar to the above, fire a pleasant smell when you
receive email from someone you like and it goes unread.
Perhaps a cut-grass smell for the latest Viridian
It's probably good to think about what won't work:
Web browser plug-ins. Have you ever been annoyed by
a web page with a MIDI background song? Do you think
that smell will be any less annoying, especially when
you're paying for it?
Anything that causes the device to fire when you might
not be there. Imagine a cell-phone aromatizer that
fires with each call. Your mother/wife/whoever calls
a dozen times while the phone is sitting in the car.
Instant uninhabitable car.
Any sufficiently strong or natural smell that might
trigger allergies. Allergies will be a particular
problem in shared office space.
(Duncan Stewart of the Viridian Curia)
Excellent! Active contest participation! Smells
like a winner!
Too much so, actually – got to act fast before the good ones are taken!)
Smell is primal; it turns on memory and promotes
instantaneous like/dislike associations. New smells
good; old just smells. If you could capture
'newness' and release it slowly over time, you could
retain brand loyalty.
1) New car smell – It's like the flavor of chewing gum; so good, but so short-lived.
If you could capture the essence of that smell*, and release it gradually, you might not
care so much that your purchase dropped 1/4 of its value as soon as you pulled out of
the lot. (Since it's likely that 'new car' consists of the poisonous emissions of
solvents and adhesives, mixed with the long-chain monomers of modern manufacturing, a
Viridian Green KleanCarSmel would fetch a premium price!)
2) Cell phones – they gradually release the smell of chocolate, so you're less
likely to go for the latest hardware (but only if you stay with your original service
provider; if you change providers, they start to smell like not-so-fresh fish!)
Nokia forms an alliance with Droste and Nestle,
patenting chocolate-truffle flavas for their
communicator lines, with an eye towards retaining
their edge in the EU and USA. Ningbo Bird, however,
Chinese upstart, teams with Haribo gummi bears and
the makers of Mega Warheads and crushes the
competition in the exploding Tween market.
3) Psychotherapy – What better way to relive your childhood?! Like one of those
'spider' conference phones, the emitter sits in front of the patient while the remote
sits by the doctor. "So, what is your earliest memory? (smells of baby rice cereal,
poached eggs, holiday gingerbread stand at the ready). (For me, the smell of a freshly
run off mimeograph would send me right back to Junior High. Ah, toluene (or methyl
alcohol, whatever)... )
4) Privacy – Don't like people messing with your private stuff (your desk, computer, meticulously organized sock drawer, stash, whatever..)? Perhaps a little rotten-egg smell will keep away unwanted guests. Or, for the guest that refuses to leave, silent-but-deadly 'tabs' in the seat cushions could be activated by remote control.
These'll do for now.
From: kjas*mindspring.com (Kim Allen)
Most cat owners would pay a lot to have the
couch smell unappealing to Fifi, with her sharp
little claws. How about finding smells that repel
animals but are not offensive to humans (kind of
like the way dogs hear frequencies that we can't).
A little Aromatizer tucked into the sofa frame
could emit a slow leak of the repellant right
along that area that's starting to fray.
Jenny Craig Stinks
Long-time listener, first-time caller...
It's interesting how so many people first
think of uses for bad smells. You know that's
not going to go over. I already see so many
parties and events with "scent free" notices
But I do like the idea that we'll need a
boutique store to re-supply the Aromatizer.
"Honey, the Hawleys are coming over, so don't
forget to pick up some extra sandalwood cartridges
at All Things Stinky!"
I think the killer smeller app is a voluntary
behavior modification device. With processed foods
and added sweeteners, you can no longer rely on your
built-in senses to reliably report that what smells
good or tastes good is really good for you.
So hook the Aromatizer up to a barcode scanner
and a database, and let the appropriate smell
be piped directly to you, to aid in making
health-conscious shopping and eating decisions.
Morbidly obese? Set the system for low-fat and
high fiber. The double-cheeseburgers are a bit
whiff, but the rice cakes smell heavenly.
Settings available for those who want to lower
sodium intake, avoid or seek out GMO comestibles,
or are even looking to be responsible consumers,
and only partake of environmentally-correct products
("The over-fished fish is a bit too fishy.")
After a while, the user can do away with the
smell-mod training wheels, and the learned avoidance
behavior sticks, as is all too familiar to anyone who
has had food-poisoning. Or a bad tequila drunk.
On a more Viridian note, the same thing hooked up
to a GPS would give the traveler an edge on
identifying environmentally-tainted areas. Don't
drink the water here – it smells funny.
Superfund sites, mercury spill at the rail yard,
ozone-level alerts, all could feed in. This sounds
goofy, but is not too far off from the established
idea of adding butyl mercaptan to odorless natural
gas to aid in identifying leaks.
Final note – People are asking about smell detectors. Wasn't there a UT Austin spin-off based on "electric nose" or "electric tongue" technology? I can't find any trace of them now.
Good luck to Paul Groepler and Headspace Technologies.
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MY EYES ARE WATERING
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