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THE CUTTING EDGE: FOCUS ON TECHNOLOGY

Fragrance Firms Join DigiScents

December 04, 2000|From Reuters

NEW YORK — DigiScents Inc., the much-ballyhooed U.S. start-up seeking to give computers a sense of smell, was set to disclose today that it has won the backing of two leaders in the global fragrance industry.

The Oakland-based DigiScents said Givaudan of Switzerland and Quest of the Netherlands have taken minority equity stakes in return for being named "preferred fragrance suppliers" of the pioneering technology company.

"This deal is the largest joint investment by the fragrance industry in a new technology," said Joel Bellenson, chief executive and co-founder of DigiScents, in an interview Sunday.

Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

Bellenson said the closely held company had received a total of $20 million in backing to date, including $10 million in February from Hong Kong-based Internet investor Pacific Century CyberWorks.

The company is hoping that by the second half of next year, major players in the advertising, packaged goods and video game industries will begin using DigiScents' digital smell-sensing technology to recreate thousands of odors via a personal computer-based smell amplifying device, called iSmell and which looks like a small stereo speaker.

Bellenson said the initial deal covered only the development of the company's scent emission system. Givaudan and Quest will supply the raw materials that DigiScents will use to create scent cartridges used to create odors.

The devices work like color printer cartridges, but instead of ink to paper they pump a palette of scents into the air.

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