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Google Nose is fake. The artificial nose isn’t.

It is, according to Google, the new "scentsation" in search: Google Nose.

"Google Nose," still in Beta, "leverages new and existing technologies to offer the sharpest olfactory experience available." Scratch and sniff books are one way to use Google Nose; self-driving new car smell is another possible experience.

Google Nose is not real; it's among the company's many April Fool's Day jokes. But the idea of a an artificial nose—something that would navigate the world solely using its sense of smell—isn't 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 reports that Germany has considered adding a unique smell to its currency as a means of combating fake money. While its not yet possible to smell this radio segment, you can listen to it right here.




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Evan Soltas · April 1, 2013

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