Google Hoax Hits Nose

Google pulled off one of its best April Fools hoaxes to date, with yesterday's announcement of Google Nose a smell sensory add-on for the search engine's roster of features.

Admittedly, art collectors of Art Kabinett social media network fell nose-first for this 'scent-sational' joke.

With Google Books, the search engine behemoth has recently allowed users to scan and store images of pages from over a million books on the web.

In their April Fools press release yesterday, they described a breakthrough with one type of content with which they have struggled in the past: books employing scratch-and-sniff technology.

Using special equipment and arcane JavaScript, Google reported that they were able to capture some of the smells during the scanning process and then embed them in your web browser, when you preview these titles in Google Book Search.

Google NoseBETA claimed to leverage new and existing technologies to offer the sharpest olfactory experience available. Street Sense vehicles have inhaled and indexed millions of atmospheric miles.

Android Ambient Odor Detection also collects smells via the world's most sensible mobile operating system.

SMELLCD™ 1.8+ high-resolution compatible for precise and controlled odors. These include lemons, roses, horse manure and the sweet smell of a locker room.

Sensory Breakthrough

Of course, Google Nose is not real, But the idea of a an artificial nose—something that would navigate the world solely using its sense of smell—is not a joke at all.

At least not to Cyrano Sciences, a California-based company that is hard at work developing an electronic nose that will come pre-programmed with a database of all sorts of smells—a database like the one at the heart of Google’s joke.

What, exactly, is the value of an electronic nose?

“This American Life’s” Nancy Updike did a piece on it last year, and found a few:

“Factories could put electronic noses throughout their plant to detect dangerous gases that might be leaking during the manufacturing process,” she reported. “Doctors could use a handheld electronic nose to diagnose pneumonia and other conditions that have distinctive smells.”

In one especially unique example, Updike reported that Germany has considered adding a unique smell to its currency as a means of combating fake money.

From our own collector perspective, conceptual artists could include digital recordings of olfactory sensation. Imagine downloading an electronic work by Ernesto Neto?