Smellovision. Another step etc

Like most people, I can’t wait for smellovision to finally arrive, although even at its best I imagine it will be a profoundly unpleasant experience.

I like the idea though – of a sort of camera that not only records vision (bi-focally, 360 degrees) but also does sound, smell, movement… etc etc. An full-spectrum sensory recorder. A detachable head. Again.

So anyway, this thing turned up recently which isn’t a smellovision machine, but a very photogenic way of measuring smell components

And maybe if you can do that, it’s possible to push it back the other way and actually create the smells.

Ok. A long shot.

It reminds me of something though… can’t quite put my finger on it.

Something it’s not though… but could have been is the Damien Hirst thing that is now safe and sound on the surface of Mars


And is now definitely worth more than the cost of the sending it there in the first place – which was only a million quid or something.

It’s a bit of a shame that it didn’t phone home… but… its value probably always was going to be something other than scientific. It’s a story thing.

3 Comments » for Smellovision. Another step etc
  1. Guillermo says:

    It kind of reminds me of a DNA sequence ladder.

    Maybe what where missing (it has possibly been tried, though) is a robust language of smells, something that allows us to communicate smell in a way that is detached from taste. Would that even be possible? Hmm…

  2. admin says:

    Yea – that would be the instinctive approach… trouble is, that other things that we can deal with in this way – music, light, language etc ARE actually combinations of fairly simple “atomic” components… whereas smells (or tastes for that matter) are combinations of a fairly wide range of chemicals, a large number of which we probably haven’t discovered yet.

    And I think we’re probably fairly good at spotting the differences – so although isopentyl acetate smells like banana… it probably isn’t going to fool anyone for long. Real bananas have a complex and subtle mix of all sorts of other things as well. I also have a feeling that the sense of smell might have quite a fast brain-filter mechanism… so when you first walk into a room you smell it… but it doesn’t take long for you to tune it out… ie: our own internal senses of smell might not be that consistent.

    That said… it might be possible to work miracles with a fairly big palette (a couple of hundred chemicals say) and some sort of genetic algorithm. Maybe.

  3. Guillermo says:

    Another thing to consider is that even if it was technically possible, the level of complexity needed to engineer an olfactory landscape might be so great it would be impractical for anything other than a proof of concept. Considering that our ability to detect off putting (or just plain weird) smells is fairly good. It would be all the range amongst other animals though.

    But, I’m clearly getting ahead of myself.