Wednesday, August 15, 2012

LMAYQ: Can Odor be recorded?

Let Me Answer Your Questions: part 2, in which I answer your very important questions via google search terms. Part 1 and all subsequent LMAYQ posts will be archived in the LMAYQ index.

by Likarious
So let's get to it, what fascinating questions are you asking google?

1. "Can odor be recorded?"  

This likely brought someone to my post "You can't trust your receptors:smell" in which I discuss the EOG (electrolfactogram) where you can record the electrical activity of a smell receptor while certain smells are presented.  But it does not answer the question of whether a smell itself can be recorded.

So I looked into it a little bit and surprisingly, the answer is yes!

Nakamoto and others have created an "odor recorder"

Nakamoto 2005 figure 1
Unlike visual recording, which only need red, green, and blue to make essentially all the colors, odor recording requires a few more components. For example, the authors created an apple smell using 8 components.

I would love to say that this odor recorder is going to appear in every living room and plug into the TV so that restaurant and perfume marketing can be truly effective, I just don't see the demand being strong enough to make it worth mass producing. Though, I think it would be pretty amazing. 

I also had doubts as to whether the odor recorder could accurately transmit the scent of a really nice perfume which is not static, but develops over time. But The 2005 Nakamoto paper shows that they can actually record the changes of an odor over time!

While there is always the fact that a perfume reacts differently with every one's skin, the odor recorder actually seems like a promising device and might find a market in die hard perfume fans.

or..."odor recorder prevents murder"

The quest to permanently record the scent of a woman drives a man to murder in the mediocre movie "Perfume: the Story of a Murderer."  If only he was in possession of an odor recorder.

© TheCellularScale

ResearchBlogging.orgNakamoto T (2005). Study of odor recorder for dynamical change of odor. Chemical senses, 30 Suppl 1 PMID: 15738143


  1. FYI: Perfume, the Story of a Murderer might have been a mediocre movie, but IMHO the book it's based on by Patrick Suskind is really good.

    1. I can see it being a better book than movie, I'll have to read it sometime.