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NTT Goes From Cell Phone To Smell Phone

The carrier is set to test a new Mobile Fragrance Communication service that pairs audio and video with programmable aromas.

Somewhere between Smell-o-vision and aromatherapy, NTT Communications will test what it calls a Mobile Fragrance Communication service, where audiovisual content is paired with specific smells emitted from a device paired with the mobile phone.

"Fragrance communication," in which pleasant odors are used to enhance indoor environments, dates back to 2005, the carrier said Monday, in a statement. "The new mobile version offers the convenience of using mobile communication to download Fragrance Playlists, or files of recipes for specific fragrances together with visual (GIF animation) and audio (MIDI) content," NTT added.

In a 10-day pilot that starts Thursday, 20 test subjects (men and women) will get a kit containing a mobile phone and a fragrance device. Five testers will also be given Service Gateway modules, which control operation of devices in the Mobile Fragrance Communication system. The Web-connected gateway can receive commands from a mobile phone to activate fragrance right before the user gets home, for example.

Users will be able to download fragrance playlists from the NTT DoCoMo's "i-mode" mobile Web site. Fragrance data is then transferred via the phone's infrared port to a device loaded with base fragrances. It mixes and emits the desired fragrance while the user enjoys audio or video on their phone. Playlists can also be edited and shared with other subscribers, NTT said.

The carrier said it will take user reactions from the pilot to learn more about when, where and how subject to prefer to use the service, as well as the fragrance device's design and usability.

NTT also said Monday that it will begin accepting applications from companies in Japan that wish to develop content and applications for the commercial version of the Mobile Fragrance Communication service, including ringtones, music, or horoscopes, for example, that are paired with fragrances.

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