‘Digital smell’ technology could mean you can send smells via online chats, scientists claim | Daily Mail Online

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‘Digital smell’ technology could mean you can send smells via online chats, scientists claim | Daily Mail Online

By Chris Mahon, Wednesday, 28 November 2018 – 1:53PM

 

Of all the useless projects undertaken by humanity, few have been more difficult, futile, and unpleasant than artificially creating smell, either through electrical impulses or by pumping in smells directly into a room (like the ill-fated Smell-O-Vision). Though smells can trigger emotions and even memories, nobody is really clamoring for a piece of technology that lets you smell someone you’re video-chatting with or sample a catalog of virtual smells (unless it’s one of those fancy air fresheners). Nevertheless, a team of researchers in Malaysia is forging ahead with digital smell technology, and they claim to have made some progress.

During the experiments, 31 participants had an electrodes inserted in their nostrils, which stimulated the receptors in the nose that send signals to the brain to create a sensation of smell. According to the Imagineering Institute, which conducted the study, the researchers were able to evoke 10 different artificial scents, though they weren’t able to control which one the participants smelled.

According to Adrian Cheok, one of the researchers associated with the study: “It’s not just about the smell. It is part of a whole, integrated virtual reality or augmented reality. So, for example, you could have a virtual dinner with your friend through the internet. You can see them in 3D and also share a glass of wine together.”

However, some scientists have doubted the findings of the study. One of them is Charles Spence, of the University of Oxford, who told Mach: “Any everyday smell will probably activate tens or hundreds of receptors. If you have only got one electrode in the nose, no matter what frequency rate or intensity (of electrical current you use) you are not going to be able to stimulate enough receptors to deliver a (perception).”

Joel Mainland, of Monell Chemical Senses Center in the United States, also pointed out that people may believe they can smell a faint odor when they’re told they should be smelling one. According to Mainland, the Malaysia study doesn’t adequately account for this issue.

Either way, we’re not holding our breath (or noses) for the day when you can email someone the scent of a sandwich.

Zapping the Olfactory Bulb Produces Phantom Smells | The Scientist Magazine(R)

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Zapping the Olfactory Bulb Produces Phantom Smells | The Scientist Magazine(R)

Researchers envision a cochlear implant–like device for the nose to give people with impaired olfaction a sense of smell.

 

By SHAWNA WILLIAMS Nov 27, 2018
The sensation of perceiving a smell can be induced in people by using electrodes to stimulate the brain’s olfactory bulb, researchers report today (November 27) in the International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology. The results, they suggest, are a proof of concept that it would be possible to develop an “olfactory implant system” to aid people with an impaired sense of smell, known as anosmia.

 

“Our work shows that smell restoration technology is an idea worth studying further,” says coauthor Eric Holbrook of Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in a press release. “The development of cochlear implants, for example, didn’t really accelerate until someone placed an electrode in the cochlea of a patient and found that the patient heard a frequency of some type.”

Holbrook and colleagues enrolled five subjects in the study who were able to smell. Three of them reported perceiving odors not actually present when the researchers stimulated different parts of their olfactory bulbs with electrodes inserted through the nose, a procedure the study authors say caused “minimal discomfort.” Subjects described the smells as “onion-like,” “antiseptic-like,” “sour,” “fruity,” or simply “bad.”

The finding follows a report earlier this year that electrically stimulating structures high up in the nasal cavity produced smell sensations. The scientists who conducted that study at Malaysia’s Imagineering Institute aim to one day transmit smells electronically, reportes IEEE Spectrum—for example, to give restaurant-goers a whiff of dishes on the menu as they decide what to order.

 

See “Regularly Whiffing Essential Oils Can Retrain Sense of Smell

As in the Massachusetts Ear and Eye study, the Imagineering Institute researchers weren’t able to control which odor the subjects perceived. The Malaysian team suggests the digital smells could be transmitted through a noninvasive headset, rather than with electrodes up the nose, which their volunteers found quite uncomfortable. As coauthor Kasun Karunanayaka tells IEEE Spectrum, “A lot of people wanted to participate, but after one trial they left, because they couldn’t bear it.”

Future video chats might include smell along with sight and sound

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Future video chats might include smell along with sight and sound

Future video chats might include smell along with sight and sound

Imagine receiving a video chat from a friend that shows him behind a grill, barbecuing some burgers and franks. Now imagine being able to smell that pleasurable BBQ aroma through your phoneAccording to NBC News, digital smell technology is something that we could all be experiencing in the future. In Malaysia, experiments were recently conducted on 31 test subjects. The scientists working on the project had to place electrodes inside the noses of all 31 volunteers.
The electrodes transmitted weak electrical currents into neurons found above the nostrils. These neurons send impulses to the brain, which create the sense of smell. With the electrical impulses, the researchers were able to get the subjects to smell virtual recreations of ten different odors including fruity, woody and minty. Unfortunately,  the scientists could not control which of the smells were experienced by the subjects.
According to one of the scientists, Adrian Cheok, the technology could eventually be used to send smells over the internet with electrodes replaced by goggles. After all, not too many consumers would be willing to put electrodes in their nose every time they are in the middle of a video chat.
Recently, a product called Cyrano was marketed as a digital scent speaker, able to produce different smells on command from a smartphone app. But critics called it a high-tech air freshener. As long as there are scientists willing to work on transmitting odors, eventually there could be a time when sending smells over a smartphone is as easy as sending a text or email.

‘Digital smell’ technology could let you send ODOURS in dating apps – Mirror Online

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‘Digital smell’ technology could let you send ODOURS in dating apps

Researchers have been able to evoke 10 different virtual smells, including fruity, woody and minty

 

It’s one of the most evocative senses, and now your sense of smell you be stimulated through odours sent in online chats.

Researchers from the Imagineering Institute in Malaysia have developed ‘digital smell technology’, that could let you send smells online.

Speaking to NBC News, Adrian Cheok, one of the researchers behind the system, said: “It’s not just about the smell.

“It is part of a whole, integrated virtual reality or augmented reality.

“So, for example, you could have a virtual dinner with your friend through the internet. You can see them in 3D and also share a glass of wine together.”

Normally, odours are transmitted by airborne molecules that enter your nose.

But in this system, the researchers used electrodes in the nostrils to deliver weak electrical currents to simulate smells.

 

During tests on 31 participants, the team was able to evoke 10 different virtual smells, including fruity, woody and minty.

Dr Cheok added: “The next stage is to produce it in a more controlled manner, and this will allow for people to develop software and products to generate electric smell.”
In terms of practical uses, the researchers believe that the system could one day be used in cinemas, to give viewers a more immersive experience.

Future video chats might even transmit smells: See how

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Future video chats might even transmit smells: See how

Written By Shubham Sharma – 27 Nov 2018

 

Modern-day internet messaging platforms (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger et al) have re-defined end-to-end conversations.

You can call a friend anytime to see what they are doing or where they are.

But, in order to make these conversations even more immersive, a group of scientists is exploring the possibility of transmitting smell via chats. Yep, SMELL!

Here’s how that could be a reality.

Future video chats might even transmit smells!

Tech

How smell could be transmitted on chat?

At present, no technology allows us to convey smell on internet-based chats.

However, in recent experiments, scientists were able to trigger different smell senses electrically, something that suggests a system like that might be a reality in the future.

They have envisioned a nose-like device that would sense odors and transmit them digitally to the receiver, along with sights and sounds, NBC News reported.

The subjects sensed different odors, but with no control

Experiment

Here’s how they electrically triggered a sense smell

A sense of smell is created when air molecules enter the nose and trigger specialized nerve cells, which deliver sensory impulses to the brain.

The scientists used the same technique, but instead of using air, they employed weak electrical currents to trigger these neurons.

They placed electrodes in the nostrils of 31 test subjects to deliver currents where the neurons are found.

 

The result

The subjects sensed different odors, but with no control

The resulting, electrically triggered impulses, led the subjects to smell virtual creations of 10 different odors, including fruity, minty, and woody.

Though they were not able to control which odor the subjects experienced, the team thinks the tech could be advanced to create a digital smell tech, where odors transmitted from that nose-like device would be received with some sort of glasses or goggles.

‘Digital smell’ technology could let us transmit odors in online chats

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‘Digital smell’ technology could let us transmit odors in online chats

“It’s not just about the smell. It is part of a whole, integrated virtual reality or augmented reality.”
Image: Man on cellphone
Researchers in Malaysia want to develop technology that would allow people to send scents as easily as they send emails and texts. PeopleImages / Getty Images

Having a video chat with a friend or colleague is all about seeing and hearing — at least for now. But experiments conducted recently in Malaysia suggest it may be possible to develop “electric smell” technology capable of conveying odors as well as sights and sounds.

The research is preliminary and not without its critics. But if electric smell pans out, long-distance conversations could one day be far more immersive — enabling you to share with a loved one the aroma of a meal you just prepared, for example, or letting you catch a whiff of the sea from your sister’s beach vacation.

“It’s not just about the smell,” said Adrian Cheok, one of the scientists behind the experiments. “It is part of a whole, integrated virtual reality or augmented reality. So, for example, you could have a virtual dinner with your friend through the internet. You can see them in 3D and also share a glass of wine together.”

 

EVOKING VIRTUAL ODORS

In real life, odors are transmitted when airborne molecules waft into the nose, prompting specialized nerve cells in the upper airway to fire off impulses to the brain. In the recent experiments, performed on 31 test subjects at the Imagineering Institute in the Malaysian city of Nusajaya, researchers used electrodes in the nostrils to deliver weak electrical currents above and behind the nostrils, where these neurons are found.

The researchers were able to evoke 10 different virtual odors, including fruity, woody and minty.

 

Image: Researchers at the Imagineering Institute in Malaysia use electricity to stimulate olfactory receptors.
Researchers at the Imagineering Institute in Malaysia use electricity, which they applied up the nose through electrodes, to stimulate nerves called olfactory receptors. –Imagineering Institute

 

The scientists couldn’t control which odors the subjects experienced, and they’re under no illusion that people will want to stick wires up their nostrils each time they have a video chat.

But Cheok, who is also the institute’s director as well as a professor at the City University of London, foresees a day when odors might be sensed by a sort of electronic nose (similar devices are now used in food-processing plants), sent in digital form over the internet and delivered to the recipient not via wires in the nose but via electrode-studded glasses or goggles.

“This stage was more exploratory,” Cheok said of the research. “The next stage is to produce it in a more controlled manner, and this will allow for people to develop software and products to generate electric smell.”

Cheok said it might take decades before the sorts of devices he envisions are ready to use. But he thinks devices that convey pre-programmed odors for entertainment applications — for example, to give moviegoers the generic scent of burnt rubber as they watch a car chase in an action movie — might be available sooner, perhaps within 15 years.

Electric smell technology could find applications beyond entertainment and personal communications. If it does prove feasible, it might be used to restore a sense of smell in people who have lost it as a result of illness, injury or inborn abnormality, said Joel Mainland, an olfactory neuroscientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia.

“I think there are medical implications for a certain class of people who have lost their sense of smell, but not everybody,” Mainland said.

A FLAWED STUDY?

Mainland added that it should be at least theoretically possible to evoke specific odors via electrical stimulation. He compared this approach to cochlear implants, which electrically stimulate the nerve that carries sound signals to the brain to restore limited hearing to deaf people. “It’s not a natural stimulation,” he said of cochlear implants. “It seems like it shouldn’t work.”

It’s possible a smell-restoring device could function in a similar manner, he said. “If you start playing something that is correlated to smells that are coming in, people’s brains will be able to decode what is going on.”

But Mainland is critical of the Malaysian study, saying it’s possible that the smells the subjects reported may not have been produced by electricity. “I can give you an empty jar to sniff when you don’t have anything up your nose, and sometimes you would report a faint odor,” he said in an email. “If you are asking someone if something smells, they have a strong bias to say yes even where there is no odor.”

The study failed to account for this possibility, he said.

 

Please vote for the brilliant Dr. Maria Tomas, Senior lecturer in SMCSE, @CityUniLondon for the 2019 British Photography Awards in the category of Documentary!

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Please vote for the brilliant Dr. Maria Tomas, Senior lecturer in SMCSE, @CityUniLondon for the 2019 British Photography Awards in the category of Documentary! Please vote here -> https://www.britishphotographyawards.org/2019-Shortlist/Documentary/Tradition/8a2d6263-85e7-4a60-846c-6afd9857b656

Why do we think tiny things are cute? | Popular Science

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Why do we think tiny things are cute?

There are a few reasons, but we’re hard-wired to find small things adorable.

 

By Dana G. Smith, August 28, 2018

https://www.popsci.com/why-do-we-think-tiny-things-are-cute

 

cute monkey looking in the mirror

 

What would inspire someone to painstakingly craft an inch-and-a-half-long burrito using dental tools? A hamster, of course. In the viral YouTube video “Tiny Hamster Eating Tiny Burritos,” a man prepares a chicken and single black bean burrito, then serves it to the rodent waiting at a jam-jar table. The diner pulls the burrito off a poker-chip plate and stuffs the entire thing into its mouth, cheeks puffed as if in satisfaction. It’s amazing.

Videos like this are shared all over the internet, with miniature birthday celebrations, romantic dates, and tiki parties starring cherubic animals in unlikely situations. The clips have accumulated millions of views. So why do we find these tiny tableaus so satisfying? In part, it’s because we’re engineered to appreciate the smaller things in life.

The protagonist is typically a small animal with a big head and big eyes, features collectively known as “baby schema”—a phrase coined in a 1943 paper by Austrian ethologist Konrad Lorenz. Human infants are the prototypical embodiment of baby schema. Because our babies are so helpless, Lorenz proposed, we evolved to find these characteristics cute so we’ll instinctually want to take care of them. This response helps our species survive. In fact, the power of baby schema is so strong, we’re even attracted to other beings with these traits.

“We’re not robots or computers,” says Adrian David Cheok, director of the Imagineering Institute in Malaysia, who has studied Kawaii, a culture prevalent in Japan that celebrates the adorable side of life. “Not only do we find other people’s children cute, we also find other animals cute, like puppies or kittens, because they have similar features to human babies.”

Research bears this out. Dozens of studies show that the smaller and more stereotypically “baby” a human or animal looks, the more we want to protect it. One investigation found that seeing pictures of baby animals makes us smile, while another discovered that photos of human infants trigger the nucleus accumbens, a brain region implicated in the anticipation of a reward. There’s even evidence that cute things help us concentrate and perform tasks better, theoretically because they sharpen the focus of our attention on the recipients of our care.

Our response to baby schema is so strong that it also spills out toward inanimate objects. In a 2011 study, researchers tweaked images of cars to make them embody the baby schema, with huge headlights and smaller grilles to reflect infants’ big eyes and small noses. College students smiled more at pictures of the baby-faced autos, finding them more appealing than the unaltered versions.

Mimicking chubby-cheeked critters to make goods more attractive might help sell cars, but not all little creatures have features manufacturers should imitate. Some small animals don’t exactly inspire our cuddle reflex—who wants to caress a cockroach? That’s partly because these beasties display traits (bitty heads, large bodies, and beady eyes) that don’t fit the baby schema. Sure, some people have a soft spot for “ugly cute” animals, including some species of spiders, but these still fall on Lorenz’s spectrum with big, bright peepers.

What about the things we squee over that don’t have eyes at all? Think of that darling burrito. What it lacks in a face, it makes up for in sheer artistry. “When you’re looking at [things] and seeing them as cute because they’re small, you’re also seeing them as cute because they’re cleverly made,” says Joshua Paul Dale, a faculty member at Tokyo Gakugei University and co-editor of the book The Aesthetics and Affects of Cuteness.

It makes sense then that the original meaning of “cute” was “clever or shrewd.” Simply put, we appreciate the craftsmanship of small things—it’s more difficult to make a burrito the size of a thumb than one as big as your forearm. A man examining his finished creation for flaws with a dentist’s mirror definitely meets that innovative criteria.

These tiny, carefully made items may also bring us joy because they make us want to play. Psychologists Gary Sherman and Jonathan Haidt theorize that cuteness triggers not just a protective impulse, but also a childlike response that encourages fun. To them, the desire to engage with cute things stems from our need to socialize children through play—an urge we transfer to adorable objects.

Craftsmanship and playfulness definitely factor in to why we find pint-size things so charming, but don’t discount the huge impact of their petite proportions. Miniature scenes make us feel powerful as viewers. Anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss suggests in The Savage Mind that we derive satisfaction from minuscule objects because we can see and comprehend them in their entirety, which makes them less threatening. Essentially, tiny towns, toy soldiers, and miniature tea sets make us feel like gods…or Godzillas.

That power, of course, is all in your head. The reason you smile as you build a ship in a bottle or watch videos like “Tiny Birthday for a Tiny Hedgehog” (Look it up. You’re welcome.) is that your brain is taking in the sight of that carefully frosted cake and small spiky body topped with a party hat and sending you mental rewards, causing you to feel formidable, focused, happy, and capable of keeping the weak and vulnerable alive. Yes, it means we are easily dominated by diminutive things, but so what? They’re adorable.

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