Italian perfumier noses out smelly e-mails

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ROME--Italian master perfume maker Lorenzo Dante Ferro says he's developing a technology that will get people's noses as involved in cyberspace as their eyes.

Acknowledging that the idea sounds far-fetched, Mr. Ferro said he is developing a technology that will allow people to send an e-mail that smells like a rose, for example; or for users to include the smell of the sea with an e-mail about a beach vacation, or the scent of home cooking with an invitation to dinner. "This is definitely the first time anyone has tried this," Mr. Ferro says. "The possibilities are unlimited."

Mr. Ferro made his reputation developing delicate perfumes for Italy's finest couture houses, but he first made headlines last year when he developed a series of scents to be released during a concert by Italian rap singer Jovanotti.

His latest project is his most ambitious. It involves developing hardware that includes tiny rechargeable scent cartridges that will combine in different proportions to produce a wide range of smells. Special software would allow senders to pick from a menu of scent options available.

Mr. Ferro says the idea has commercial potential as well, using scents to create specific moods to make potential buyers more attentive.

"With the right effort, these cartridges will become as common as speakers on computers," he says. Mr. Ferro says he's working with a team of technicians to develop the hardware and software that will initially create a limited range of scents. He hopes the production of the hardware and software will help him attract established technology companies to develop the project further.

Copyright April 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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