This week Adrian Cheok, professor of pervasive computing at City University London and the inventor of the Scentee, a Japanese iPhone attachment that emits pre-programmed scent, revealed that he’s working on technology that will allow our smartphones to transmit taste and smell electronically.
Considering how much of our youths we spent excitedly waiting for the advent of smell-o-vision (you led us on, Noel Edmonds), we’re not going to get too excited just yet. But the news has left us thinking about a few of the digital situations in which we could use an additional sense or two…
Can you imagine how much of a game-changer it would be to be able to taste that lifestyle blogger’s ‘indulgent’ dairy-free, sugar-free chocolate mousse? Just think how much better you would feel about your own life if that beautifully-styled photo came with a mouthful of scrambled tofu and the faint whiff of wet dog just out of shot.
Likewise all the times you make a curry that tastes like heaven but looks like a sad beige mess, people would be able to appreciate just why your sad beige mess deserves a post and a filter. #nojudgement
Other people’s festival fun
It’s traditionally the thought we use to console ourselves for the three months a year that our feeds are full of people frolicking in fields, but the old ‘yeah, I’d rather have clean sheets and a shower’ excuse would be so much more effective if it came with a bonus puff of BO and portaloo.
Having a glamourously hedonistic time, guys? Your glands say otherwise.
What do celebrities smell of? We all have our own ideas on this, of course (Jennifer Lawrence: toffee popcorn, George Clooney: leather armchairs, Emma Thompson: a bracing sea breeze) but it would be wonderful to have them confirmed.
TV food shows
If we could actually taste the doughnuts on The Great British Bake Off, or that oozing cheese toastie on Jamie’s Comfort Food, we would a) know whether or not they were lying about it being delicious and b) possibly be prevented from TV Food Show Syndrome, AKA where you eat everything in your cupboards to try to satsify the craving for the thing on screen that you can’t be bothered to cook. Possibly.
New baby is one of nature’s most beautiful smells, one with the power to soothe all ills. If we could look at a photo of our newborn nieces and nephews, friend’s children or, yeah ok, that girl you were at school with’s latest adorable offspring and breathe in their lovely babyish fragrance whenever we were feeling stressed, it might prevent road rage and fights outside pubs.
Likewise, smelling the dirty nappy on a gurgling infant could serve as a handy reminder that we don’t want our own just now, ta.
And a few of the situations in which we’d rather our olfactory system took a back seat, thanks…
Theoretically there’s no stigma attached to fake tan these days, because we’re all Team No Skin Cancer. But there’s still a stigma attached to honking like a bowl of milky biscuits, and we could probably do without granting that nasal bonus to all of our Facebook friends. Particularly when you lied and said it didn’t rain in Lanzarote once.
Imagine all the hideous new ways trolls could torment us if they had two extra senses to work with. One imagines a general stench of bitterness and greasy bedrooms, like a pair of pyjama bottoms that had never been washed – but then, that would be stereotyping.
Last night’s photos
Reliving an evening through the 82-odd photos on your phone (omg, when did I have a hilarious hat?) would be significantly less soothing on a hangover if it also came with a cloud of sticky beer mats, donor meat and night bus upholstery. You can filter the visual evidence, but not the fumes.
Not yet, anyway.
Main image: Dennis Wong