The Internet gets smelly

You've heard of smellivision, now scientists aim to put a pong on the Net

Scientists at the Wieseman Institute in Israel say they have developed technology that could allow smells to be sent over the Internet.

Sending a perfumed email or instant message could be an everyday practise in just a few years say professors David Harel and Doron Lancet of the Weiseman Institute's molecular genetics department.

Harel claims that he and Lancet have already built a "working prototype" device capable of creating familiar smells from chemicals and says that a commercial version of this device will be available within the year.

According to Harelthey have recently also patented "mathematically and algorithmic" technology which allows unfamiliar smells to be captured. According to Harel, this means that one day smells could be transmitted electronically.

The science of "olfactory communication" is far from perfect he admits. "It will take at least two more years of work before unknown smells can be sent in real time and someone is able to do a cooking show with all the smells," he says.

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