Google sniffs after smart device that blasts your body odor

The search giant is granted a patent for a "fragrance emission device" that would sense when you have B.O. and steer you away from any friends who might be nearby at the time.

Michael Franco
Freelancer Michael Franco writes about the serious and silly sides of science and technology for CNET and other pixel and paper pubs. He's kept his fingers on the keyboard while owning a B&B in Amish country, managing an eco-resort in the Caribbean, sweating in Singapore, and rehydrating (with beer, of course) in Prague. E-mail Michael.
Michael Franco
2 min read

The Stink Blaster (OK, that's not its real name, but it just sounds better than "fragrance emission device). US Patent and Trademark Office

It's hard to say what effect all the fitness wearables coming to market will have, but one of the consequences just might be a global rise in body odor from all that extra exercise. If that's the case, Google may be ready with a wearable odor-sensing gizmo it described in a patent issued Tuesday by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

If the device, which comes with an activity sensor, finds that you're smelly, it shoots a fragrance or deodorizer at you. It plugs in to your social network to help steer you clear of any friends who might be in the vicinity (just in case the fragrance wasn't strong enough, apparently).

"When a user is wearing the fragrance emission device and begins to exert himself or herself, an activity module within the device may detect the physical exertion," reads the patent, colorfully titled Patent No. 8,950,238. "The activity module may detect a rise in sweat levels, an increase in body odor or body temperature, or any other parameter that may indicate the user is exercising or otherwise exerting themself (sic)."

Once the activity module knew you were starting to get whiffy, it would shoot out its neutralizer. Of course, you could easily override the system if you didn't want to get blasted with Eau de Google.

Far and away, the strangest part of the "fragrance emission device" has to do with the way it would connect to your social-media channels and warn you when friends were around and you weren't smelling your freshest. It would then provide an alternative route you could take to avoid your peeps while you got to a shower. According to the patent:

If the Google device comes to be, you won't have to sniff your own armpits anymore. James Martin/CNET

"In some cases, the device may learn that some of the user's social contacts...are in the same area as the user and therefore may possibly meet the user within the area or on a similar route that the user is likely to take. However, to avoid subjecting the social contacts to the odor, the device may include a route-suggesting portion that can notify the user that his contacts are in the area. The route-suggesting portion may additionally provide an alternate route for the user to take to increase the chances of avoiding an unpleasant odorous meeting with his social contacts."

According to a report in Quartz, the patent came by way of Motorola Mobility, a company acquired by Google in 2011 largely for its approximately 24,500 patents. Examining this particular one, I have to think it might have been No. 24,499 on the list.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.