could soon be able to spice up your e-mails with your favourite
UK net provider Telewest Broadband is testing a system to let
people to send aromatic e-mails over the internet.
It has developed a kind of hi-tech air freshener that plugs into
a PC and sprays a smell linked to the message.
Telewest say it could be used by supermarkets to tempt people
with the smell of fresh bread or by holiday companies seeking
to stir up images of sun-kissed beaches.
"This could bring an extra whiff of realism to the internet,"
said Chad Raube, director of internet services at Telewest Broadband.
"We are always looking at ways to enhance the broadband
internet experience of the future and this time we are sure consumers
will come up smelling of roses."
The technology behind the idea was originally developed by US
company Trisenx. Scientists at Telewest's labs have built on that
research to come up with the idea of a "scent dome".
The dome comes with a cartridge containing 20 basic aromas, which
can be combined to produce up to 60 different smells.
A "scented e-mail" would contain electronic signals
that would tell the dome to release the smell of flowers, perfume
"Our sense of smell is directly connected to our emotions,"
said anthropologist Kate Fox, director of the Social Issues Research
Centre in Oxford.
"Smells trigger very powerful and deep-seated emotional
responses, and this additional element to the internet will enhance
users' online experience by adding that crucial third dimension."