New App Sends Smells via iPhone

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There is a new smartphone app in Japan that stinks. Literally.

RocketNews24, a Japanese news website, reports that a company called Chaku Perfume claims its new product Chat Perf is designed to send smells via iPhone. An attachment made up of an atomizer and a smell tank fits into an iPhone’s dock port.

But the contraption is not nearly as cool as it sounds. It looks like you have to download an app and press a button that causes the device to emit whatever scent is in the Chat Perf connected to your friend’s phone. So you are not actually texting smells to your friends. If you wanted to send them a different smell each time, you would basically have to send them different Chat Perf attachments, which seems to defeat the purpose since the company says it would charge $62.25 for each attachment.

It sounds like the company is more or less promoting the invention as a marketing tool for now. The company told RocketNews24 that concert venues could hand out Chat Perfs filled with the performer’s favorite scent, or even the smell of their own sweat, so that devoted fans could get a whiff of them wherever they were in the audience. Smelling sweaty music stars? Not exactly the most fun smell to share.

Popular Science points out that to make “smellepresence” real, you would basically have to create an “electronic nose” that could interpret smells the way human noses do. Then the person receiving the scent would have to have a device on his or her phone that could recognize the more than 10,000 odor molecules that humans can smell — and it is unlikely that a device like that would be portable. Chat Perf seems like it has a long way to go.

This zany idea reminds me of the time when Samsung and researchers at the University of California-San Diego announced that they were working on a Smell-O-Vision prototype, which would allow televisions to emit smells as you watched programming.

MORE: Like the Smell of New Apple Gadgets? There’s a Fragrance for That