Chapter 5. Digital Smell and Taste

On April 1, 2013, Google announced “Google Nose,” a way to digitally capture and search for smells. In a company video, product manager Jon Wooley pointed out how smell was an important part of the search experience that Google had previously overlooked. Google Nose would allow you to go beyond type, speech, and touch to retrieve information and gain knowledge about the world. Powered by the Google Aromabase database of 15 million scentibytes from around the world, Google Nose would identify a particular smell in your environment, or emit aroma results from a keyword search.

Google Nose was an April Fool’s Day prank and not a real product. But digital scent experienced over the internet isn’t that far-fetched. In fact, it’s happening today to help make people’s lives better via hardware and wearables that release beneficial aromas for adults suffering from Dementia and Alzheimer’s. It is even being used as an early diagnostic tool.

The human sensorium is not limited to vision, touch, and sound. If we are to engage Augmented Reality (AR) with all of our senses, we can’t forget smell and taste. They are the only two senses that are directly connected to the limbic system of the brain, which is responsible for emotion and memory. Smell and taste can be incredibly personal carriers of stories, memories, and emotions. These two senses can transport you to the past, or bring your attention to the present.

The field of digital smell and taste is a growing ...

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