Savannah Company Brings Scents Online - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

08/26/05

Savannah Company Brings Scents Online

Savannah-based artist Zan says her music has a little of everything: "touch of rock, hip hop, funk, Middle Eastern, new age kind of music."

And something else. With a device called a Scent Dome, a product of Savannah-based TriSenx, plugged into your computer, you can actually smell the flowers in the video on her new CD, "Unleashed."

"The first scent-enabled video in history," said Scent Dome inventor Ellwood Ivey.

We caught up with Ivey at Gallery Espresso in Savannah, where he explained how the system works. It has 20 primary fragrances housed beneath its dome. With special software, you can combine them and the Scent Dome emits your chosen scent in conjunction with, say, a song or a web page loading. You can even email scents people with Scent Domes can sniff.

"It's beyond the music," said Zan. "What we're doing is just a little piece of that, you know. So it should, eventually, I think it will take you further than just the music scene."

"There are multiple applications as you can imagine," said Ivey. "Video games, various types of aromatherapy applications."

We coaxed Gallery Espresso patron Karen Clark into giving it a try, mixing her own scent using TriSenx's software. She actually jumped a little when she first smelled her creation. "That is so funny. That is so wild," she said. I just made smells from the computer come alive. I've never seen anything like that before."

A practical example of a use for this technology is online marketing. If scent is important to your product, like coffee or perfume, imagine being able to make use of that on your website.

How about at home? "For example, you might want to scent-enable your room," said Ivey. "You might want lavender in the evening, you might want citrus in the morning. You can set the unit for that type of application."

But Ivey says his primary customers at the moment are schools. "Let's say that a student is learning about various types of flowers. So they're studying botany...they will in a digital environment be able to smell that flower, making the experience more real."

As a matter of fact, to get students more involved, TriSenx held an essay contest on the topic "How Smell Influences Learning." He and Zan are touring the winning students' schools, presenting them with Scent Domes of there very own.

If Ivey has his way, computers won't just be about images and sounds any more. Introducing scents could open up a new dimension in the online world.

Reported by: Charles Gray, cgray@wtoc.com

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