THINK of it as a ringtone for your nose. A research team at the National University of Singapore has built a system that allows people to identify others with unique smells and sounds.
Sound Perfume consists of a pair of glasses fitted with speakers and odour emitters located behind the ears, along with an app running on a smartphone that connects to the glasses via Bluetooth. The idea is that you use the app to choose a personal sound and smell for others to experience when you meet them.
Infrared sensors in the glasses detect when you meet someone else using Sound Perfume and your cellphone sends your name, contact number and sound/smell preferences to their handset, which then triggers the appropriate response in their glasses. The current set-up makes use of eight different perfumes in the form of hard blocks that melt and release an aroma when gently heated by a wire to 46°C.
Yongsoon Choi and her colleagues tested the system on 52 people and found that using Sound Perfume helped form a positive impression during first meetings. "They seemed to enjoy the new stimuli and diverse information during face-to-face interaction," she says. Her team is now investigating the possibility of adding Sound Perfume to other fashion accessories.
Choi presented the research at the Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology conference in Lisbon, Portugal. However, Neil Martin, who studies psychology and odour at Middlesex University, London, is unimpressed: "Would any sentient individual wear a device that makes you smell as if you'd passed through a very bad department store's perfume counter?"