Development of a Perfume Emission System via Internet
Tadayosi YOSHIMURA and Yoshitaka SAKASHITA
On the Internet, the following contents have already been available: Pictures, movies, music, etc. But, the smell is hard to become present Internet's contents. There was a technology of scent generation controlled by computer. DigiScents Inc. developed a scent generator, called iSmell, in 1999 . The developed "iSmell Personal Scent Synthesizer" could create thousands of everyday scents with a small cartridge that contains 128 primary odors. These primary odors were mixed together to generate other smells that closely replicate common natural and manmade odors. It brought about new entertainment in the digital media. But, the iSmell from DigiScents is now sadly yet predictably bankrupt.
People have been found to recognize an emotion or "feeling" based on previous experience with an odor before consciously recognizing the odor [2, 3]. Episodic memory, involving a personal experience, is an essential component of olfactory memory but conscious interaction with an odor is not . Whether this problem has been scientifically proven, is unclear. Unfortunately, the iSmell device was never commercially available and closed down in April 2001 .
It seems reasonable that adding the sense of smell to a virtual environment would enhance the environment's presence. It is important not to repeat iSmell's failure. We must not selfishly synthesize or create the smell, which can be created with many odor-palettes, such as iSmell. We confine a real perfume in the cartridge, and then generate the odor on switching on the fan.
We have developed a USB interface device for emitting the perfume. Various perfume components are stored in the perfume emitter. The perfume is emitted, when the mail with the key program of the perfume emission is read via Internet.
2 Perfume emitter device
A prototype of the perfume emitter device will be connected to your personal computer through a universal serial bus (USB) port. It can be plugged into any ordinary electrical outlet. Once the user requests the perfume odor, the digitized perfume data are sent to the perfume emitter device, which then emits the odor into the user's immediate area. The device emits natural vapors triggered by a mouse click of the mail icon. Figure 1 shows a prototype model of the perfume emitter, which is connected to a personal computer through a USB port. We used a USB kit (USB-IO) as a USB interface. This kit has 12 ports of a digital input/output device.
Figure 1. Prototype model of the perfume emitter.
Figure 2. Picture of the perfume emitter device connected to personal computer.
Figure 2 shows a picture of the perfume emitter device connected to a personal computer. This device contains 8 cartridges, which have the odor gel substances of 8 basic perfumes. The basic perfumes are strawberry, apple, floral, rose, vanilla, menthol, matsutake and peach. We have a policy that the smells must not be blended.
3 Control program
We have developed the Visual Basic program for controlling the perfume emitter device. USB-IO device (HSP, Ver.0.1e, K-K) is controlled by USB plug-in program (HSPUSBIO.DLL) , which is a DLL file of Windows operation system.
Figure 3. Visual Basic cords list of UBS-IO defined functions.
Figure 3 shows that the Visual Basic cords list consists of the functions defined in Ref., which controls the UBS port.
4 Basic perfume components
As a concept of this research, the smells are not blended. Various perfume components are stored in the perfume emitter. The basic perfumes are strawberry, apple, flora, rose, vanilla, menthol, matsutake and peach. We purchased commercial products of all perfume elements. They are limited to eight, because there are only eight cartridges. But, it is possible to set the odor of about 50 kinds, if the basic perfume substance is changed in the cartridge. In our policy, the perfumes are not blended. For this reason, it is possible to prepare the elements of many kinds of perfumes.
Figure 4. Perfume-hold-back agent. A: Gel agent, B: Gel agent + Perfume (Ethanol)
A user emits the odor vapor into his/her immediate area by the on/off control of the fan of the emitter device. The smell component as an element of the perfume must be used safely. The ethanol-based component is used in order to raise the volatility and diffusivity of the perfume odor. When the ethanol component is left in the open system, it immediately volatilizes, and it can not be preserved in the cartridge. A perfume sample dissolves well in ethanol. The ethanol-based perfume component, which is liquid, volatilizes all, when it is put in an open system for along time. The perfume-hold-back agent can be available to preserve odor for hours in the cartridge. In this research, a super absorbent polymer, which is a cooling gel material (commercially available), is used as a perfume-hold-back agent, as shown in Figure 4.
Figure 5. Weight change-by-day of the perfume-hold- back agent contained an aroma oil.
Figure 6. Sensor responses of ethanol gas with/without the perfume sample.
Smell retention capacity in the cooling gel material (Ice Japan Co. Ltd., FREEZER ICE) was examined. Perfume sample is an aroma oil (Daiso Co. Ltd.). Ethanol 5mL and perfume 2mL were mixed in the beaker, and then they were mixed with cooling gel material 50mL. The mixture was put in the open system, and the weight change was examined over time, as shown in Figure 5.
From Figure 5, it is proven that the weight loss continued, even if it was left at open system over 1 month. The quality of the smell did not change over 1 month even in the sensory evaluation. The smell in the perfume emitter is used by the closed system, which switches on/off the solenoid valve of the holder. It was found that the ethanol-based smell could be preserved in the long term by using a cooling gel material.
On putting the above gel sample in the 3 liters enclosure box, the response of the gas sensor was observed, as shown in Figure 6(S1). S2(Figure 6) is the sensor response only of ethanol as a control. We used TGS#823 as a gas sensor . Figure 6 shows that the initial response was observed high only in the ethanol sample. The ethanol gel sample with the perfume showed the constant gas concentration.
An advantage of the hold-back agent consists in the fact that the perfume odor can be retained for hours in the open system. The agent gel can be retained in the cartridge, because of the adequate viscosity of the gel, when the emitter device turns over.
5 Smell mail via Internet
The mail with a smell file is exchanged via Internet. By server-judging the mail which contains a virus, it has been deleted. The mail including the program which controls the computer peripheral equipment automatically may be judged a virus. The mail including the Visual Basic program which controls the smell emitter automatically is judged a virus. The added program is compressed in lzh format in order to solve the virus problem, and then it can be sent, as shown in Figure 7. By extracting the program, the receiver of the mail clicks it. The DLL file is also displayed with the execution file by being extracted, as shown in Figure 8. "HSPUSBIO.DLL" file is necessary in order to use a USB bus. And then, the perfume of the flora is generated from the perfume emitter, when the mail receiver clicks the execution file, as shown in Figure 9. The mail receiver has smelled the perfume emitted from the emission device, as shown in Figure 10. The perfume is emitting, when the picture of Figure 9 is displayed. Emission of the perfume stops, when the picture is erased. The picture might be erased, if the mail receiver wants to stop the emission of the perfume.
Figure 7. Hotmail display of extracting the lzh-formatted file.
Figure 8. Extracted file of Visual Basic program "Perfume of the flora" with HSPUSBIO.DLL .
Figure 9. Execution screen of program "Perfume of the flora".
Figure 10. The mail receiver has smelled the perfume emitted from the emission device .
By blending the elements of the perfume, NTT is marketing the perfume-generating device . In our policy, however, the perfumes are not blended. A perfume emitter which stored the perfume element of the multiple kind was developed. For the perfume emitter system, we don't blend the element of the perfume, and don't make the mixture of the smells. It is possible in respect of the quality assurance of the perfume which arises from the element of the perfume. Ethanol and a cooling gel material are good to enable the emission of long term perfume.
As the future problem, the deodorization of the perfume will be examined, in order to blend the perfume elements emitted in the room.
Part of this work was announced at the 2005 Annual meeting of the Society of Computer Chemistry, Japan, and 19thICCE symposium "New Ways of Teaching Chemistry" in KOREA, 2006.
The authors are especially grateful to Dr. Kazuhiko Ishikawa (Fukui National College of Technology) for his valuable advice on USB port use.
[ 1] http://www.digiscents.com/
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[ 6] http://bake-san.com/usb001.htm
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[ 8] FBC Television broadcasted in the telenews "Plus 1" at 19th January, 2006.
[ 9] NTT's Aroma Communication; http://ntt.com/release/2005NEWS/0005/0523.html