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Smellonics

Form of communication based on smells
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Humans possess 5 senses. Yet the vast majority of syntactical communication is done through either sight (written language) or sound (spoken language).

The invention of Braille to deal with the written communication problems of the blind demonstrates clearly that the other senses have the capacity to be used too. And not just for 'basic' emotional cues, but full syntactic communication of complex ideas at the same level as writing or speaking.

I hence propose the development of "Smellonics" - a full syntactical language based on smells. The human nose is capable of recognising thousands of different smells. These could be combined in combination to communicate ideas just as sounds or visual characters are.

The main issue would be in creating the stream of smells. A machine capable of mixing chemicals quickly in the required quantity to produce the smells is the best bet. In the same way that Braille must be written by machine, the requirement for Smellonics to be generated by a computer should not rule it out.

Applications for the language abound. Fighter jet pilots already have busy cockpits with too many dials to watch and audio alerts to listen to. But there is free bandwidth to their attention via smell!

Having the ability to receive complex information through smell would also help our evolutionary development. Smell is an underused sense that is likely to be lost if we do not use it more extensively.

Chippy, May 23 2003

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       I'm already suffering information overload as it is, and I'm not even a jet pilot. Think I'd prefer to keep my nose for its current purpose, sniffing out trouble.
DrCurry, May 23 2003
  

       Lemon-berry-poop-lemon-musk-smoke. Poop-rubber-tequilla-lemon-berry. Skunk!
bungston, May 23 2003
  

       Smell fire, eject.
bristolz, May 23 2003
  

       As with all mechanisms for getting your attention, the sense of smell was trounced on by ad agencies who proceeded to stuff magazines full of cologne/perfume samples. The result was an annoyance of various smells that were not indivisably distinguishable. Thankfully, the printed mag industry has all but halted the practice.
latka, May 23 2003
  

       *sniff* *sniff*   

       Smells like fish.
ato_de, May 23 2003
  

       Rapid fire smell-tones would clog up the air in a hurry. How do you propose clearing odors before the next scent arrives?
k_sra, May 23 2003
  

       I don't really think this would be practical as a language, but perhaps instead smell could be incorporated into more broadened 'signs' or warnings - the same way that we associate the smell of gas with a pilot light that's gone out, etc. Smells could then be used in designated areas - i.e., a 'this area is restricted' smell, etc. Perhaps smells for certain generally public facilities like bathrooms (ha-ha, really though). The scents would have to be synthesized ones to avoid being mixed up with already present smells, and would have to be fairly potent to remain notable amongst other things that might be in the air.
Caracal, May 23 2003
  

       Taking this idea to the next level: Aromatronics is the electronic recognition of smells. Using the aromatronic messenger, the human sender can type in her message and the message is automatically converted into a combination of chemical scents. Then, the human receiver vacuums up the aromatic message with her very own aromatronic messenger, which converts the scent back into text. Messages can then be worn on the body, or delivered via snail mail as scent-grams.
pluterday, May 23 2003
  

       Speaking of bandwidth, haven't you ever sat before an exquisit gourmet dish, and tried to puzzle out exactly what that certain ingredient is? (Bear in mind that our sense of taste is mostly smell.) It actually takes quite a bit of concentration to distinguish between multiple smells, as latka has alluded above.   

       As for marking certain public areas with scent, that's already more than half-baked. Fast food restaraunts have been polluting the scent-scape to plug their products for years.
dijontoothpaste, May 23 2003
  

       I tried to smell onyx, but there wasn't much to it.   

       In "Red Dwarf", all cat literature was written in smells.
friendlyfire, May 24 2003
  
      
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