Smell the action

Thursday, 14 July, 2016
Imagine you are watching a great movie or playing your favourite video game. And not only do you see and hear what's going on but you can actually smell it! This is what FET-Open project NanoSmell envisages.

NanoSmell wants to transform video games and television viewing through controlled odour-emission. The approach can also benefit other areas such as pest control and medicine.

So far, odour-emission from TVs, phones or computers has been impossible because so little is known about the olfactory code.  Also, there is no technology for emitting smells in a reversible manner. In the NanoSmell-project scientists from disciplines such as molecular neurosciences, nanotechnology and bioengineering have taken on this challenge.

Specifically designed DNA-strands will be combined with a single olfactory receptor. This receptor is then tagged with a nanoparticle so that it can be manipulated by an external electromagnetic field. Odour could simply be switched on and off.

But first the project needs to find the link between the molecular structure of an odorant, related brain activity and odour perception. Solving this combinatorial code of olfaction would be in itself a ground-breaking scientific contribution. Beyond that, the project aims at many societal applications. Odour-emitting devices is only a part of them. Eventually, a novel pharmacology could arise with innovative therapies in wound healing. Pest control could also be more efficient and less harmful to the environment. In general, it would be much easier to create odour-controlled settings.

More information is available on the website of this EU-funded project.

Project: 
NanoSmells: Artificial remote-controlled odorants
Project coordinator: 
WEIZMANN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE
Project Acronym: 
NanoSmell
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