Smelly screens selling beer on the street

Aroma retail therapy to get Tokyo shoppers in the mood

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We've devoted a lot of space recently to coverage of the latest exciting developments in display technology, from thin screens to all manner of touch-sensitive displays, but this is the first time we've been able to say that a new product really stinks.

Of course, given that it stinks of aromatic oils designed to attract customers to shops, NTT Com's prototype smelly sign about to go on trial in Tokyo is more likely to be viewed as a success than as a candidate for a rubdown with a damp cloth.

Lemon appeal

The aroma-emitting ' Kaoru Digital Signage' display will be appearing in front of a Tokyo beer hall called
Kirin City from 21 October and will assault the noses of passers-by with scents of orange and lemon and the eyes with video of foaming jugs of beer.

Apparently, the men in suits reckon the citrus is "associated with beer" so the field test resulting in crowds flocking to the bar like journalists to, well, a bar will show that they're correct. Either way, each installation uses ultrasound to vaporise aromatic oils and can waft the result over 500 cubic metres.

Street showdown

While it's a borderline enough idea to market beer with olfactory guerrilla strikes, some of NTT Com's other uses for the combination of its digital signs and 'Kaori Tsushin' technology for telling networked devices when to get smelly is a little insidious.

For some reason, we feel that manipulating our most primal sense for "marketing communications and customer services by financial institutions, medical facilities [and] public offices" might be a step too far.