Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Last e-Sensory Frontier

The rapid advances in technology - particularly the last 25 years - has had a remarkable impact on our lives. Good or bad - advances for end users has incorporated more and more of our basic senses.
  • Seeing- With wide-screen color monitors, YouTube, JPGs, Amazon's Kindle, laser and ink jet printers, etc. most of the technololgy advances have incorporated first and foremost our visual senses.
  • Hearing - Arguably, one of the most controversial aspects of new technologies is the advancements in digital audio. MP3s, Digital Rights Management, Napster, podcasts, etc. all have had and continue to have an impact on the legal availability and portability of digital sounds.
  • Touch - Many applications now incorporate touch technologies. Airline check-in kiosks and restaurant server seating and order stations are just two solutions made easier by touch-screen monitors.
  • Vocal - As vocal recognition and recording software has improved, the adoption of vocal-related technologies has expanded. Many emerging songwriters and bands now record demos and sometime full album releases by recording songs on a laptop or iMac. Bluetooth devices for cell phones have transformed the stereotyped label for folks who talk to themselves from insane to just downright annoying.
But what sense is missing? Smell! No smell technologies on the web? What sense does that make? (OK, bad pun - it won't happen least in this entry.) Imagine how useful it would be with digitized smells...or troubling.
  • Restaurants, bakeries, and florists could incorporate digital smell files into their on-line menus and product offerings.

  • Perfume companies could expand the role of those annoying mall spritzers by having a whole catalog of on-line sample scents to click and sniff. Or maybe Yankee Candle - I'm sure they would charge at least 99 cents per clicked sniff though as nothing in their stores are free.
  • Google Maps could incorporate smells emanating from nearby landfills or hog farms when you start exploring choices for out-of-town hotels, a new apartment, or a parcel of land for a business.
  • A whole new realm of world-traveling, time-wasting e-mail could be sent to offices around the globe. The subject line of "you have to read this" could have a renaissance as "FW: FW: FW: you have to smell this. Its hilarious".
  • Alongside your Outlook inbox, calendar, tasks, and personal folders, you could have a folder titled Scent Items.
What do you think? Drop me an e-smell to let me know your thoughts - or a comment here will be fine as well.



  1. Is vocal a sense? I was trying to count them - I know there are 5 senses....sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste - I guess vocal is close enough :) smelling things on the internet might be fun...depends on what you're shopping for....we buy alot of diapers online...

  2. Cue Napoleon Dynamite. IDIOT. Senses are receptors. Taste IS a sense. Vocal is output and NOT a sense. And yes, I'm pretty sure there's no technology (yet) that allows me to snag a taste from my monitor, mouse, or keyboard. Thanks for setting me straight.