Scratch-n-Spin

For years, computer makers have been sniffing around the idea of delivering smells to consumers through their PCs. A device invented at the Illinois Institute of Technology may bring that promise home by embedding aroma-bearing chemicals on a CD-style disk. A laser in a special “Tele-Aroma Drive” heats the precise spot where an odor is stored, and a fan blows the released aroma toward a user’s nostrils.

Existing smell makers create about 100 different aromas by opening scent-storage cartridges in various combinations. Chemical engineer Hamid Arastoopour says CDs beat cartridges by a nose. The CD aroma drives are “compact, you can put thousands of ingredients on them and easily send them out to people,” he says. Disk-based catalogues containing a tantalizing whiff of faux Chanel No. 5 or a musky cabernet could land in mailboxes this year. Eventually, Arastoopour says, aroma disks could be integrated with DVD flicks. Smell-o-vision, anyone?

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