Dianne See Morrison
Monday, April 7, 2008; 5:00 PM
Would a ringtone, horoscope, or a music track be enhanced if a "pleasing fragrance" accompanied it? NTT Communications announced today that it's running a ten-day trial starting April 10 of its new Mobile Fragrance Communication service (Kaori Tshshi Mobile), the mobile version of a service, which in Japan is already used in homes and movie theaters.
Users will be able to download a "Fragrance Playlist" or files of recipes for specific smells along with visual (GIF animation) and/or audio (MIDI) content from i-Mode's mobile website. The service uses a handset's infrared port to transfer the "fragrance data" to a dedicated device similar to a plug-in air freshener that is loaded with a cartridge of base fragrances. The device then mixes them to create the chosen smell, which it then wafts out, accompanying the audio or visual content that is played on the phone. People will be able to share their Fragrance Playlists with friends who subscribe to the service.
NTT is also testing a device controller--the Service Gateway--which allows users to remotely control their Mobile Fragrance Communication system through the internet using their mobile phone. For example, a user can send his or her phone to instruct the fragrance device begin operating before he or she gets home.
The company also said it was accepting applications from companies in Japan wishing to develop content and applications for a commercial version of the Mobile Fragrance Communication Service. NTT envisions for example, ringtones, music and horoscopes combined with fragrances ( release).
In other NTT news, NTT DoCoMo (NYSE: DCM), Japan's dominant mobile network saw its market share dip below 50 percent for the first time, according to the country's Telecommunications Carriers Association, which first began compiling mobile subscriber statistics in 1996. The carrier currently has a 49.7 percent share of the market. Rivals KDDI and Softbank have eaten into NTT DoCoMo's market share by slashing the cost of plans, said Reuters.