As you may have read last week, recently we have been considering the possibilities of connecting smell to the internet. Alongside conceptual exploration of the potential of smell, how it affects us, and how we can use it online, we have been building a simple prototype that will emit a scent in response to an online activity.
Titled ‘The Smell of Success’, the prototype is a hacked Glade air freshener that sprays out its “vanillaroma” whenever one of your tweets is re-tweeted. It came from us playing around with the idea of rewarding digital success with physical rewards - giving you a little pat on the back or treat whenever someone responds favourably to something you do on the web.
So it works like this. The Glade is hooked up (via arduino and processing) to our Twitter account. We put out a tweet of some sort. The device can then recognise whenever someone re-tweets it, and every time that happens, it will let out a little puff of scented air. So you should most certainly re-tweet @mintfoundry whenever you can, and stink out the Mint Digital offices for us.
As Ben pointed out in his wonderful “Digital Snurdling" post, the ephemeral nature of a passing smell has great similarity with the way a tweet works - it exists momentarily before wafting away and being forgotten. Of course, those who have enough Twitter clout to be re-tweeted all the time would have their little machine constantly pumping out the smell of success (which, admittedly, probably isnt vanillaroma).
This coming week, we will be working towards how we can make this prototype something more developed - exploring the possibilities of connecting it to different people and networks, and also working on its physical and aesthetic properties. In its current guise, it does of course have the potential to seem gimmicky; its our aim to resolve this and make use of the capacity of smell to genuinely enrich digital experiences.
Stay tuned and keep up the re-tweeting. Smell you later.