Soldiers Trained To Obey Odors With Scent Delivery Device

This is almost too weird (a phrase you will read only rarely on this site). USC researchers have devised a personal device that could be worn by soldiers that would receive wireless orders to deliver particular odors. In training, soldiers would be made to associate specific actions with particular odors. From the patent application:

An exemplary base for the scent delivery system according to the present invention ... is in the form of a necklace and includes cartridge slots... Scent cartridges are fitted into the ... slots... Preferably the base includes a communication board... the base includes a battery for powering the various electrical components and the scent cartridges... the base can be manufactured or molded of various lightweight materials...


(From Scent Delivery Service patent application [pdf])

It is pointed out in the application that scents are processed first in the emotional brain - orders given by scent might then be processed and obeyed immediately, without ratiocination.

This scent delivery device would also be used extensively in virtual training environments.

In his 1972 novel Hellstrom's Hive, Frank Herbert wrote about a group of people like the Amish or the Shakers who voluntarily withdrew from the rest of society in the nineteenth century. This group, however, modeled their new society on insect hives - each member of the group has been modified in utero or with specific hormones to have the characteristics needed for their jobs.

Just as with insects, scent is extremely important to all members of society. Normalcy and calm within the "hive" can be ascertained by group members simply by smelling the air around them. For example, when there is discord and danger in the hive, fearful members give off enough scent that everyone else soon knows what is happening. Here's an excerpt:

From the Hive Manual. Chemical releasers that can evoke a predetermined response from the individual of any animal species must be very numerous and may be infinite witin the refined nuances of variation. The so-called rational mind of consciousness in the human animal presents no insurmountable obstacle to such a releasing process, but may be considered only as a threshold to be overcome. And once consciousness has been sufficiently depressed, the releaser is freed to do its work. Here, in this area once considered the exclusive domain of instinct, we of the Hive are sure to develop our greatest unifying forces.

I can't resist tossing in links to some of my other scent-related favorites, like Frank Herber's Odalarm - the scent-based alarm clock and Kaori Web - Ray Bradbury's Odorophonics comes to a PC near you; both of these are real devices. Read more about soldiers who obey odors.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/15/2006)

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