• 11.09.11

Scent Device Promises To Blend Tweets With Smells

A British research team creates Smell-O-Vision for the Internet, only you control the smell. Phew!

Scent Device Promises To Blend Tweets With Smells

Remember Smell-O-Vision, that brief, unsuccessful, and very-’60s attempt to blast scents into movie theaters so viewers could “smell” a film? It’s back, in a way. Introducing Olly, a gadget that turns the pings and tweets and likes of the Internet into fragrant whiffs. The good news: You control the smells.


Olly was invented by Foundry at Mint Digital, a British design research group composed of Ben Redford, Chris Thomas, Tim Pryde, and Genis Carreras. The device, a simple white box, works like a cross between a Glade PlugIn and a personal notification system. Fill it with essential oils or anything else odiferous (such as a slice of fruit or even a drop of gin). The device then listens to specific events on the Internet, whether email pings or Facebook updates, and those sounds activate Olly’s hardware, releasing an aroma into the air. Want your tweets to smell like fresh-cut grass? Done. Your Instagram likes to evoke patchouli? Uh, done. (But why?)

You could even purchase multiple Ollies–each device pairs a single type of notification with a single odor–so that you have one scent for Twitter, another for Facebook, and still another for email. Ya’ know, for those of you who’ve always wanted your desktop to smell like the air freshener aisle at Rite Aid.

Right, so too much Olly is probably not a good thing. But the basic idea’s a clever one. A lot of us are inundated by social-media updates throughout the day, and they’re not only annoying, they’re distracting (damn you, gchat!). Sure, you could turn off your computer’s sound and close your windows, but then you might miss something. Olly is a way to stay abreast of your vibrant digital life, without constantly bombarding your ears and eyeballs. It might even help you get more work done. And hey, it’s always better to be the guy at work who smells like roses instead of old shoes.

Mint Foundry’s Ben Redford tell’s Co.Design that they hope to start selling Olly by Christmas. No word yet on price. Check back on Mint Foundry’s website for updates.

[Images courtesy of Mint Foundry]

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.