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Brief Published: 14 Nov 2011



What does the internet smell like? It’s a question the Foundry research team at London- and New York-based digital research studio Mint Digital is trying to answer with its web-connected ‘smelly’ robot, Olly.

By turning every tweet, wall post and e-mail into a short burst of fragrance (the user chooses the smell), Olly creates a subtle way of breaking though the barrage of noise generated by the relentless speed of social media. The robot helps people keep on top their digital lives by alerting them to incoming messages without bombarding the eyes and ears in a time of reduced attention spans.

Olly is fully open source, and ambitious olfactory hackers can build their own by following online instructions. Meanwhile, Mint Digital aims to sell fully built examples of Olly soon.

Read more about creating olfactory experiences in The Scent of Place and Scenting the Scene.