I Have Smelled the Future and It’s Scentee

Written by Eric Searleman

Get a message from your girlfriend and a whiff of her perfume at the same time. Smell the flesh in a blood-curdling video game. Why not? Eric Searleman smells the future and it’s Scentee. From Japan right to Apple iOS …

aNewDomain.net — Japanese culture has blessed the world with so many delightful things — sushi, origami, tea gardens, Akira Kurosawa movies and the Sony PlayStation. Just imagine what the world would be like today without Hello Kitty, Godzilla or Judo?

And there’s more good news: Companies in Japan are working around the clock to make our lives even more pleasant by inventing things we never knew we needed before. The latest example is the Scentee.


Image credit: ChatPerf

The Scentee is nothing more — and nothing less — than a petite “scent tank” filled with perfume. People connect the Scentee to their mobile phone’s earphone jack, and later when friends call or text, the device releases a simultaneous and appropriate fragrance. The company, Chaku Perf, thinks that it’s a lovely way to create a 4D communication experience.

On the product’s website, ChatPerf says the Scentee is intended “for girls, for lovers, for children, and for events.” But a spokesman for the company says the device might also be a hit with gamers.

For instance, if you’re playing a shooter game on your phone, the Scentee could be equipped with the smell of gunpowder.

But why stop there? Why not load up your scent tank with the rich aroma of spilled blood, mangled guts or burning flesh? Depending upon your inclination, the possibilities are endless.

The idea for ChatPerf came about gradually. “Mobile phones are constantly being upgraded,” explains Aki Yamaji, a representative for Chaku Perf, the company behind the mobile phone device. “But we felt like nothing new was being offered.”

Each new generation of phone offered better screen resolution, lighter weight, better sound quality and additional functions, but the folks at Chaku Perf still felt like something was missing.

And that missing ingredient was the sense of smell. When you think about it, we use a tandem of senses when we talk on the phone. “We use our mouth to talk, eyes to see and ears to listen,” said Yamaji, “but no one had figured out a way to include the nose. That was our first inspiration for the product.”

After producing four generations of prototypes, Chaku Perf finally felt comfortable enough to take their invention on the road. The response they received at tradeshows and various worldwide events convinced them that the time was right for its version of eSmell.

“Direct communication and interaction with consumers was a valuable part of the process,” said Yamaji. “The feedback we received helped us develop a better product.”

The Scentee will debut in August in the U.S. and will cost between $24 to $50. It is only the latest in a long line of game-changing Japanese innovations. Don’t forget that the compact disc came from Japan, as well as the quartz wristwatch, the pocket calculator, the camcorder and the floppy disk. Perhaps the Scentee will have the same type of global impact.

You never know.

But Japan is also the land of “unuseless” consumer products such as duster slippers for cats and the Drymobile, which allows you to dry your clothes while driving in a car. The Scentee might easily be dismissed as just another wacky invention from Japan. It wouldn’t be the first.

You could fill your personal library with books dedicated to un-useless Japanese inventions. Author Kenji Kawakami, in particular, has made a career out of documenting crazy Japanese consumer products.

Some of his books include Unuseless Japanese Inventions (1995), 99 More Unuseless Japanese Inventions: The Art of Chindogu (1997), 101 Unuseless Japanese Inventions (2000), Bumper Book of Unuseless Japanese Inventions (2004), and The Big Bento Box of Unuseless Japanese Inventions (2005). Each of these publications will compel you to bow in respect to the awesomeness of Japanese ingenuity.

Recently, agriculturalists in Japan devised a way to grow cantaloupe adorned with the image of Hello Kitty. It never ends, does it? The Scentee, Hello Kitty cantaloupe, and so many more things — the Japanese definitely have the knack for making life better.

For aNewDomain.net, I’m Eric Searleman.

Based in San Francisco, Eric Searleman is a senior editor at aNewDomain.net. He’s worked as a newspaper reporter, a fiction editor, a comic book artist — and even a rocker. He’s edited novels for Eraserhead Press including “Trashland A Go Go”, and he’s illustrated books for Immedium including “Animals Don’t, So I Won’t”. Read Eric’s blog about superheroes at  http://superheronovels.com/author/esearleman/ or check out his bio on aNewDomain.net