Cognitive Daily

A team of researchers in Japan has built a device that is capable of reproducing an impressively large array of smells, says a report in New Scientist.

The system will use 15 chemical-sensing microchips, or electronic noses, to pick up a broad range of aromas. These are then used to create a digital recipe from a set of 96 chemicals that can be chosen according to the purpose of each individual gadget. When you want to replay a smell, drops from the relevant vials are mixed, heated and vaporised. In tests so far, the system has successfully recorded and reproduced the smell of orange, lemon, apple, banana and melon. “We can even tell a green apple from a red apple,” Team member Pambuk Somboon says.

As the article notes, the problem is much more difficult than reproducing sounds or images, because instead of just red, green, and blue receptors, the nose has hundreds of olfactory sensors.