Most of us spend a lot of time online without really realizing how much our senses can get dulled by this daily routine. It's been proven that we need to use our senses to develop them. Web browsing and the internet engages our sight and hearing, and we do have to use our sense of touch to input information, but that's it. There hasn't been anything that would engage our sense of smell until now.
Unless you spend all of your time online, there is no real way for you to atrophy any of your senses. In worst case scenarios, you'd probably atrophy some of your muscles. Since computers and information technology have become available, they have exclusively relied on our eyes and our fingers in order to input and decode information. Rarely are any other senses involved. Smell and taste are closely related and it's known that our sense of smell is a key to our memories. Certain smells will trigger strong memories. This device is one of the first steps to provide a full olfactory experience to computing. Naturally, the scents provided must all be of the good kind. However. we could see a use for bad smells as a parental control. Associating adult sites with bad smells is a great way of controlling what your kids do online. Kids may find a way of breaking through protection and passwords, but if they are visiting sites that they shouldn't, you'll start smelling something nasty. Changing browser windows won't hide the smell.
Just like holograms and full touch based interfaces, smell has rarely been explored in this fashion. We've seen a few devices like these, but none of them could just be plugged into your computer and engage your smell, depending on what your are browsing. This new device was created by Japan's NTT Communications and will add a sense of smell to the internet. The I-Aroma conceals six oil-based scents which can be combined to create a variety of different odors. This device can be simply hooked up to a USB port and interacts with software to release the scents. The basic idea is to add another dimension to web surfing, via our sense of smell. You can also associate events and friends with certain friends on Facebook and instant messaging, or even adding a sense of smell to your gaming experience. For now, the device is being tested in Japan and may one day become widely available. [via Designboom]