Twitter Alerts Could Now Have a Smell, Thanks to Sensabubble

Soon, thanks to some researchers in England, your notifications could look (and smell!) like something out of the Wizard of Oz. This hard-to-believe technology has been developed at the University of Bristol in the U.K, and, boy, is it exciting: Sensabubble creates colorful scented bubbles that carry your alerts to you, creating dreamy, floating icons that you can actually pop to get rid of. And they leave a fragrance behind them to boot. The product is still at the prototype stage (to be properly showcased tomorrow at a tech conference in Toronto), and so it's still not in portable form. As it stands, it resembles a giant, robotic funnel, or a prop from one of the first Star Wars movies, but what it makes is truly phenomenal. Its head pulls itself through a bubble solution, and then puffs scented fog to create bubbles of three different sizes; these are then tracked by the machine, so that colors and text can be projected onto their surfaces. In theory, each different type of alert could be linked with a different smell, so that a Facebook message from Mom will smell like cookies when burst.

"The human sense of smell is powerful, but there are few research systems that explore and examine ways to use it," said Sriram Subramanian, professor of human-computer Interaction in the University of Bristol Interaction and Graphics group, in a release statement. "We have taken the first steps to explore how smell can be used to enhance and last longer in a visual object such as a soap bubble."

The possibilities don't just stop at social media, though. As the SensaBubble research team suggests, it could also be used for education and advertising. “There are many areas in which bubble-based technology like SensaBubble could be applied, such as a SensaBubble clock that releases the number of scented bubbles corresponding to the hour or SensaBubble Maths, an educational game for children, which incorporates smell as feedback on their success,” Subramanian said.

While admittedly the technology could get a bit overwhelming, especially for the more popular among us (imagine getting five different notifications, each with their own scent, in the space of a couple of minutes? The results could be nasty), it's definitely a whole new way of approaching social media. "We are interested in creating new and exciting experiences for people. Think about your laptop or phone — you can't put your finger through the screen," Subramanian told the BBC.

See for yourself below:

BristolIG on YouTube