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Smell 'camera' preserves odors for posterity

Using technology developed for the perfume industry, a designer created an odor-capturing camera that gathers scents instead of visual images.

Madelien scent camera
The Madeleine in action capturing smells.
Amy Radcliffe

It's been said that smell ties directly and strongly to our memories, yet our ability to capture important moments is based almost entirely around our other senses. We take photographs and record audio and video, but a photo just doesn't convey the smell of cut grass and flowers on your wedding day.

Designer Amy Radcliffe has developed an odor-capturing "camera" based on technology developed for the perfume industry. Her device is called Madeleine. "The Madeleine works in much the same way as a 35mm camera," Radcliffe writes. "Just as the camera records the light information of a visual in order to create a replica The Madeleine records the molecular information of a smell."

The odor source is placed under a glass dome connected to the main part of the device by tubes. A pump pulls the scent molecules out and captures them in a resin trap. That trap can then be sent to a lab for analysis and to be re-created, like a perfume component. Conceivably, you could order up a fresh batch of special scent moments whenever you felt like taking an olfactory trip down memory lane.

Radcliffe calls this concept "scent-ography." She envisions this becoming a more ubiquitous way of recording our lives. "From manipulating our emotional well-being through prescribed nostalgia, to the functional use of conditioned scent memory, our olfactory sense could take on a much more conscious role in the way we consume and record the world," she says.

You don't get instantaneous feedback like you do with a digital camera, but the Madeleine could be used to preserve special moments, like the smell of your birthday cake or the scent of Doritos and Mountain Dew from the triumphant moment when you collected every single last heart piece in the Legend of Zelda.

(Via PetaPixel)