i-Aroma: Japan wants to add fragrances to the web experience

i_aroma_ntt_communicationsReleasing odors in movie theaters to enhance the viewing experience is an idea that’s been around for decades now. Now NTT Communications, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Japan’s telecommunications behemoth NTT, takes the idea to another level: The company today announced the development of a “fragrance communication” system that makes it possible to send smells over the web.

NTT Communications is currently recruiting monitors for their so-called i-Aroma service, which will go through a test run from mid-July to the end of August. i-Aroma is based on a USB device (15cm tall) that contains six base oils, which are mixed and vaporized depending on the online commands the diffuser receives. As a result, a number of different fragrances will waft from the machine.

A total of 360 lucky participants will be able to try out two different “fragrance communication” services for free. The first service [JP], jointly developed with a professional astrologist, makes the i-Aroma device emit odors that match the dominant planets at a given time of the day. The second service [JP] makes sure you smell fragrances (designed by an “aroma therapist”) matching your lifestyle, which means you get different nasal stimuli in the morning and during the evening, for example. NTT Communications even set up closed social networks tailor-made for their i-Aroma users.


NTT as a whole isn’t joking around as far as the development of aroma-emitting devices is concerned. NTT Communications last year pilot-tested a mobile fragrance communication system. Last year, NTT Communications successfully launched a fragrance-emitting digital signage system for stores. And there is even more stuff based on the concept of “fragrance communication”.

Mainly targeting single women in their 30s, the company currently tries to find ways to commercialize i-Aroma, too. At this point, only users living in Japan and owning Windows XP or Vista PCs can sign up for the trials.