NTT pilots smell-o-phone

NTT pilots smell-o-phone

Mobile pilot to test mobile fragrance communication service

NTT Communications (NTT) has unveiled plans to produce phones that can deliver smells via its new Mobile Fragrance Communication (MFC) service.

The system is a mobile version of an existing service that combines downloaded audio-visual content together with specific fragrances that are emitted by a dedicated device. The pilot test will run from 10 to 20 April.

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 and audio content.

Fragrance data is transferred via the infrared port to a device that has been loaded with a cartridge of base fragrances. The device then mixes the specific fragrances and emits them while the audio visual content is played back on the phone.

The fragrance playlists will be available for download from the mobile website of NTT's sister company NTT DoCoMo and can also can be edited as well as shared with others who subscribe to the service.

During the pilot, NTT will also test a device controller, called the Service Gateway, which controls the operation of devices in the MFC system.

The gateway connects with the internet, allowing instructions to be sent remotely from a mobile phone. This could, for instance, allow commands to be sent to the gateway to instruct the fragrance device to begin operating just before the user arrives home.

In the pilot test, a total of 20 participants will each receive an MFC kit containing a mobile phone and fragrance device. Five of the users will also be given Service Gateway modules.

NTT aims to use the information it gathers to learn about the preferences for when, where and how to best make use of the service, as well as opinions of the fragrance device's design and usability.

The company is also accepting applications from companies in Japan that wish to develop content and applications for the forthcoming commercial version of the service, including ringtones, music and horoscopes.