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Digitally Delivered Fragrance and the Perfumer

Contact Author J. Stephan Jellinek
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For as long as man has used fragrance, it had one feature that set it apart from all other forms of esthetic decoration, cultural messages, sensory agents and psychological magic: once you presented it, you had lost control over it. It would fl oat wherever diffusion and air currents carried it. It would linger, gradually diminishing in intensity, over a period of time that was dictated by its own volatility and the properties of its carrier. All of the technical advances that perfumery has known in terms of analysis and synthesis, production, and application, have not altered the fact that once we release a fragrance, we have no more control over its expansion and its fading in the dimensions of space and time than did the ancients who first used it for their religious ceremonies, worldly feasts and personal embellishment.

Thanks to the invention of new techniques of controlled fragrance delivery, this situation is now changing. We are now able to release fragrance and turn it off again with a precision in timing that matches the unfolding of a story on a television, video, computer or movie screen. If we wish, we can, by repeated release, keep it in the air at unchanging intensity for as long as we want. We will soon be able to change fragrance quality at a rhythm and rate of our own choosing by digitally controlled blending or successive release of different scents. Through our ability to choose the site or sites of release, to adapt the design of the release ports, and to select the concentration of fragrance materials and the fl ow rate of the carrier gas, we can control, more precisely than ever before, the area over which the fragrance will be noticed. Better yet, we will give the individual consumer the power to control this area as he or she now controls the volume of their television set or CD player.

Digitally released fragrance is coming into being through the synergism of vision, technology and organizational skills. As always, vision is the driving force: a grasping of the worlds of opportunities opened by the linking of fragrance with electronic communication and entertainment media; by the feasibility of fine-tuned ongoing control of air quality, environmental fragrance and its potential for mood promotion; and by the reinstatement of the sense of smell in daily life through the controlled use of odors as messages.

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