интересно, что буквально пару дней назад на первенство нарывались японцы [ах, какая обсдача! - тут должна стоять ссылка, которую я пока не могу найти]
на всякий случай - под катом текст всей статьи -
French inventor scents whiff of success with multimedia fragrance machine
The first pioneering steps have been taken in France to add one of the most emotive of the five senses - the sense of smell - to the already mind-boggling universe of multimedia.
Life and art already jostle for our attention through myriad Internet sites, DVDs and video games with often richly layered, high-definition images and videos. Now, following the efforts of an engineer from his offices on an industrial estate in the picturesque northern French port of Saint-Malo, we may soon be able to smell the action, too.
"The French are ahead of the rest of the world in olfactory multimedia, probably thanks to our traditions in gastronomy and perfumes," said Yvan Regeard, 33, who has just launched the first company of its kind in the country. "Unlike images or sound, smells can trigger previously forgotten memories and emotions. We are talking about Proust with his slice of Madeleine cake," he mused. как они доставли уже всех с этим прустом - вот ведь воистину, хуже, чем сифилис]
In his novel "The Remembrance of Things Past", French novelist Marcel Proust describes his reaction after drinking a spoonful of tea in which a piece of cake has been soaked. The experience brings back an intense memory of his family triggered not by the sight of the cake, but by its taste and smell.
Regeard, an engineer at France Telecom who has been given leave of absence to get his project off the ground, demonstrates his multimedia version of the Proust experience by inviting his visitors on a fragrant journey through the timeless vineyards of Burgundy. A couple of clicks on the mouse on a portable computer connected to two perfume dispensers, which look like small loudspeakers, and the smell of undergrowth, vanilla and wild fruit drifts into the room.
"My dream is that one day this will become the world standard for olfactory applications, that it will become a small cog in the Windows system," he said.
Regeard works with computer-controlled fragrance diffusion systems developed by France Telecom which the company has patented worldwide. Before setting out on his own, the Frenchman spent four years working on olfactory multimedia research at the telecoms giant. The project is being eyed with special interest by the agri-food and perfume industry, he said. In the short term, incorporating smells into DVDs and on to Internet sites could be useful for professional trade fairs, for training students or sales personnel or for demonstrating products to customers.
In the long term, smells could be worked into video games, television programmes and electronic trading sites. Marketing specialists are already on the trail of the new concept. Now Regeard is on the lookout for investors in his new company, Exhalia, who would be willing to inject the 400,000 euros (530,000 dollars) he needs to take his ideas to the next stage.
After just two months he has already achieved a 20,000 euros (26,000 dollars) turnover and is shortly due to travel to Japan to sign a deal with a catering school interested in posting its recipes on Internet complete with the aromas of cooking. "What we offer is software which makes it possible to introduce a smell into the multimedia application, and a back-up service," said Regeard.
The engineer recognises the technology, at this stage, is still in the olfactory equivalent of the stone age. His technique consists of recreating the various fragrances. Commands from the computer then determine the choice of smell, its duration and intensity. They trigger a ventilation device placed in front of a cartridge which contains a perfumed gel.
At present the machines can only waft 12 smells into a room, although a several of them can be activated together. The cost is comparatively high, too, at around 400 euros (530 dollars) for each unit.
However, if his Regeard's captures investors' imaginations it could be swept up by the computer technology whirlwind, beginning a process that could end with us all being able to edge closer to experiencing reality without having to be there.
To develop and perfect its fragrances, Exhalia has formed a partnership with perfumer Robertet, based in one of France's most famous perfume towns, Grasse.