Hear a smell?

In We Robots we discussed ground-breaking research that has been done in the field of thought recognition, and saw a video of a monkey controlling a robot arm, to feed itself using only thoughts.

The concept of a fax machine was patented way back in 1843, but only became commercially viable in the 1970’s. Even though I work at the cutting edge of technology, the fax machine has always fascinated me. A document is scanned, the “code” is transmitted between two modems across a telephone line, the code is then decoded and then printed out by a printer. All without a computer, I might add.  This is all the fax machine is, a scanner, modem and printer. An intelligent machine? A robot? Yes certainly, and with a specific two tasks which it does over and over again. Scan, code and transmit or receive, decode and print.


So, in this modern age of cellphones, the Internet, wireless LANS, hand-held devices, why is this so fascinating to me? I’ll tell you why. Have you ever heard the fax signal? That buzzing, screeching, whistling noise? The modems are “talking” to each other. It’s sound, not a piece of paper, but once interpreted, it “becomes” a piece of paper.

Now, returning to the monkeys in We Robots don’t you think it could be possible to trigger senses in the brain by sound? Don’t you think we could let a monkey smell, say, an orange, and then map the brains response. And then try and get the same response from sound. If we were able match these “codes”, we would have the brain “smell” an orange every time it heard a certain sound.


I think even sight can trigger smell.  If you have smelt an orange before (ie. your brain recognises the smell) and you stare at the image of the orange above, can’t you actually start smelling or even tasting the orange?

I think any of the five senses could be activated by just finding the right buttons in the brain. and yes, the blind would see and the deaf would hear.  This research with the monkeys (or even people) must continue.


One thought on “Hear a smell?”

  1. very interesting- and very plausible. there’s even a therapy for ADHDers using brainwaves only, something like they were doing with the monkeys! i’d love to see what its about, but its expensive and not available everywhere.
    you know, i never realised a fax machine worjed without a computer!

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