The Next Thing… “iSmell”

Well, it’s finally happening, mobile devices are going to get the sense of smell. The US Department of Homeland Security is recruiting the likes of Samsung, LG, Qualcomm and Apple to develop mobile devices that use a “chemical-sensing silicon”.

The idea is that DHS could use these devices (in an opt-in model for users) to crowd source chemical monitoring in places like tunnels, metro stations, etc. With that crowd sourced information, they could know whether a potentially dangerous condition existed and alert citizens and emergency services right away. Obviously, this could help with terrorist threats but it could also help with accidental exposure to chemicals and other dangerous conditions.

For mobile learning, this is yet one more capability that we can leverage for learners. This almost completes the mobile device as a seeing, feeling and now smelling counterpart to it’s owner. We can use the device’s chemical sensor to help determine things like the makeup of natural habitats when on a nature walk or even the type of chemicals used in a lab experiment.

What kind of uses can you think of? I’m sure the possibilities are endless. The contextual relevance of a mobile device with the capability to see, feel, smell and record those data is an extremely powerful thing. We can then share that data with others and expand the knowledge base about nearly any place we visit.

This Information Week article explains the DHS project.


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