Wafts of fried beef and onions, the rich smell of Japanese curry and even the obnoxious smell of rotten eggs all mingle together in the cramped room. But the stench is not the product of an absent-minded professor surrounded by the detritus of late night snacks snatched during marathon experiments. Instead, the aromas are intimately tied to the Professor’s work.
Housed in the School of Engineering at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Professor Nakamoto is building a range of gadgets and sensors which sniff, mix and pump out a range of hundreds of scents. One of the most ambitious devices his team has built is a sophisticated “odour recorder” which can sniff an object and then reproduce its smell using a host of chemicals. If you present the recorder with a shiny red apple, the electronic nose will take a cursory sniff, analyse the odour and then draw up a recipe of chemicals needed to recreate it.