City’s Department of Computer Science is prominently featured in the 2014 Royal Institution Lectures

22 December 2014

During this year’s distinguished annual event, schoolchildren were treated to a robot orchestra performance and a taste of the electric lollipop developed by City’s Professor Adrian Cheok.


City’s Department of Computer Science has played a prominent role in the 2014 Royal Institution (RI) Christmas Lectures, which were presented by Professor Danielle George, with the theme, ‘Sparks Will Fly’. The lectures will be broadcast on BBC Four at 8pm on December 29th, 30th and 31st.


The RI Christmas Lecture Series, regarded as an annual highlight for a science event addressed to young people, is a series of talks on a single topic. The lectures have been held at London’s Royal Institution each year since 1825, except for the period 1939-1942 due to the Second World War.

Michael Faraday initiated the first RI Christmas Lecture Series in 1825 at a time when organised education for young people was scarce. Since then the lectures have followed a tradition of presenting scientific subjects to a general audience in an informative and entertaining manner.

featured (2)

During this year’s RI lectures, opportunities were provided for children in the audience to test out the world’s first electrical lollipop and Scentee smartphone smell app developed by Professor Adrian Cheok’s pervasive computing research team. PhD students Emma Yann Zhang, Gilang Pradana and visiting researcher Shogo Nishiguchi helped to demonstrate the taste and smell devices in the Royal Institution. The lecture will be broadcast on BBC Four on 30th December at 8pm.

featured (1)

Young volunteer Zara Rashid, 11, of Henrietta Barnet School in Hampstead, said:

“I thought the electronic lollipop was really cool, it was hard to work out exactly what the flavour was with just the lollipop but when there was a smell as well that made the taste much sharper. I really enjoyed the Christmas Lectures!”

Smellovision and internet parties: 2015 predictions

by Geoff Mulgan 19 December 2014 12:13am
Tom Cruise

AS 2014 draws to a close, we’re all starting to think about what 2015 will bring. Will the economy soar or slump? Will we have an inconclusive general election? Will oil prices sag even further downwards?

At Nesta, each year we try to pinpoint the biggest social and technological trends that could shape our lives over the coming year. We’ve been doing it since 2011, and our forecasts tend to hit the mark. In 2012, we accurately predicted the take-off of Raspberry Pi (a credit card-sized computer), 3D printing and crowdfunding. Last year, we predicted everything from the rise of virtual reality head-set Oculus Rift to the battle over personal data. The world is gloriously unpredictable, of course, but we hope these projections help make sense of the deeper currents of change lying behind the headlines.

This year, we’re focusing on 10 big areas of change. Some affect life and death, like the arrival of the first apps that can locate members of the public with first aid skills, and get them to the scene of an emergency ahead of ambulances. For people suffering a heart attack, the minutes gained could make all the difference.

Other predictions concern fun. A good example is the arrival of smellovision. In 2015, technology will make it possible to transmit scents through your smartphone. This year, scientists in the UK, US and Japan unveiled devices which can electronically simulate smells, providing a direct route to the limbic system of the brain, the part responsible for memory and provoking emotion. The leading device in the area is a smartphone attachment called Scentee, which can release smells like a puff of coffee to wake you up in the morning.

A third group of predictions will make many feel queasy. We expect to see the arrival of Minority Report-style billboards, broadcasting tailored advertising based on data from your GPS-enabled phone. Advertisers are always looking for novel ways to influence, and with a global spend of more than $500bn, the industry is keen to get results. We’ll see new billboard technology debut in major cities by the end of the year, but long-term success will depend on consumers’ continued willingness to give away personal data, as well as on advertisers’ ability to keep content respectful and relevant.

Politics is another area where surprising changes may be imminent. We know there will be an election in May, and newer parties like Ukip are likely to do well. We don’t forecast the result, but we do predict that the UK will soon see the arrival of new parties, very different to the old ones, which use the internet to shape policy and involve members. Many have sprung up across the world. Podemos in Spain now leads opinion polls, while Five Star in Italy has mass support. We think the UK will follow suit, with new parties using social media to recruit and campaign.

A final area of prediction concerns waste. This Christmas, we’ll all eat (and probably throw away) a lot of food. We predict long overdue progress in tackling the extraordinary amount of wasted food: according to some estimates, around 15m tonnes are discarded each year in the UK. Part of the answer may come from the “gleaning” networks springing up, which divert food from unnecessarily going into bins and put it into people’s mouths instead.

Some of these changes are being driven by big companies and governments. But a lot of the most interesting ones – like this one – are being driven by creative people, often far from the pinnacles of power, responding to the world around them.

Geoff Mulgan is chief executive of Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation. You can read Nesta’s ten predictions for 2015 at

Scent of success: Smartphone smellovision tipped for 2015 glory

full time whistle logo

Editor : Michael BROWN, 19 December 2014 Friday – 14:49

The practice of digitally transmitting the scent of perfume, coffee or even nuovelle cuisine via SMS or Instagram will take off next year, Nesta predicted, as part of its annual list of trends it thinks will shape our lives over the coming 12 months.


Smartphones will be sending and receiving scented messages by the end of next year, experts say.
The concept is one of ten emerging technologies forecast by innovation charity Nesta to make it big 2015, with others including life-saving apps and food waste feeding millions of people.
It comes six months after scientists managed to send the smell of champagne and macarons from Paris to New York with an iPhone app using a device called the oPhone Duo.

The system consists of an oSnap app which allows users to create an oNote with a smell created out of a palette of 32 available scents that can be combined in 300,000 possible combinations. To increase your social media traffic and followers visit Social media networking today is the great equalizer that allows small businesses to battle it out with the big corporations. Using just a few routine tactics will allow the small business to gain a large Web presence. Instagram bots perform a different type of automation tasks, and jarvee review is no different. The Note can then be sent to the oPhone hardware – a device which is able to recreate the smell.

Other technology in this field is the Scentee device, which can release a favourite aroma at the same time as a phone clock alarm or when an individual receives a text message.
It also claims to be able to change the taste of food with its mini air-freshener-like alcohol-based aroma cartridges. A user can select to emit a puff of scent at will using the small plastic device.
City University computing professor Adrian Cheok developed the technology behind Scentee and is now working on a device that will send a magnetic signal to a mouthguard in the back of the throat.

‘The olfactory overload of a Sunday afternoon visit to your local flower market can be texted to a friend a thousand miles away. In 2015, I predict that the ability to digitally transmit smells will hit the mainstream.’
It has been more than half a century since the concept of ‘Smell-O-Vision’ was introduced to cinema audiences, making its first widespread appearance in the 1960 film Scent Of Mystery.

The film opened in three specially-equipped theatres in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles – with the idea being that certain odours would be timed to specific points in the narrative.

But the mechanism did not work properly and audience members complained of a hissing noise accompanying the scents – as well as a delay between the actions and their corresponding smells.

Mr McNorton added: ‘While we’ve turned our noses up at past attempts, I believe 2015 is the year “smell-o-vision” will finally lose its stink.’
Another prediction is of a huge innovation in first aid that will see ambulance trusts incorporate smartphone technology locating local trained first aiders, who can respond instead of paramedics.

It is also claimed that in 2015 enough fruit and vegetables will be diverted from food waste to feed millions of people, through ‘gleaning’ harvest food that would be otherwise left to rot in farms.

Of Nesta’s ten 2014 predictions, one of the most interesting is that there would be an ‘introduction of services that help us improve our lives based on the data that we give away every day’.

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee with Your Smartphone


By  December 19, 2014 5:02 pm

The rise of the smartphone has been universal and innovators now reckon we’ll soon not only be able to surf the net, watch videos and share face time via our phones – we’ll also be able to share smells.

That’s according to innovation charity Nesta, which says that successful experiments to send scents via mobile phone will go mainstream in the New Year.

During the summer, macaroon and champagne smells were sent via an iPhone in Paris to one in New York using the oPhone Duo device. Users were able to mix their own scents from a choice of 32 different smells available via the oSnap app, then send it as an oNote. The oPhone hardware then recreates the scent so the recipient can really wake up and smell the coffee.

This is just one of a number of developments in the arena of sending smells by phone. Scentee is another, which is able to release a scent into the air when a text message arrives or when a phone alarm clock goes off. It uses tiny scent cartridges that the user can set to be triggered at certain times.

Pop Dongle is another company making scented plugs-ins for mobile users. Have a look at it in action:

Josh Norton from Nesta told the Daily Mail: “Imagine the next selfie you see posted is accompanied by the scent of perfume. The Instagram photo of your gourmet steak dinner comes with a whiff of buttery mashed potatoes. You will get the more Instagram followers at, do visit.”

He reckons this will be a major trend in 2015, taking sharing to a new level.

But it’s not the first time that science has promised to give us scents to accompany our audio and visual experiences. In the 1960s, Smell-O-Vision was introduced at cinemas in the US to release appropriate odours at certain points in a film. It wasn’t a hit.

Mr McNorton said: “While we’ve turned our noses up at past attempts, I believe 2015 is the year “smell-o-vision” will finally lose its stink.”

Send a Scent via Text? Smelltext Might be Big in 2015 … or Not


By Anu Passary, Tech Times | December 22, 12:43 AM

Sending a smelltext or scent via text messaging on the oPhone could be the next craze in 2015. With several devices supporting the functionality, smelltext is poised to take the consumer space by storm. (Photo : oNotes)









Sending a scent via text messaging is poised to be the next big thing in 2015, says British innovation charity Nesta.

According to the group’s top 10 prediction list for 2015, “smell-o-grams” or smelltexts via a smartphone will be the craze in the coming months.

Imagine that instead of buying roses for your loved one, you can send him or her a smell-o-gram via your smartphone. Sounds far-fetched? Not at all.

In 1960, Smell-O-Vision, a similar system that diffused odors, was used during the screening of the film Scent of Mystery. The idea was to make cinemagoers associate the smell with the ongoing action in each scene. However, the invention did not go down too well with viewers. Time magazine even voted it the worst invention ever.

The concept for 2015 perhaps reeks the smell of success, thanks to the advent of more advanced applications. Earlier in 2014, researchers at Harvard deployed an iPhone app to communicate the smell of macaroons and champagne from Paris to New York.

“Imagine the next selfie you see posted is accompanied by the scent of perfume. The Instagram photo of your gourmet steak dinner comes with a whiff of buttery mashed potatoes,” said Josh McNorton, Nesta’s project manager. “In 2015, I predict that the ability to digitally transmit smells will hit the mainstream.”

Sending smells along with a picture over the smartphone is already possible because of Adrian Cheok’s invention Scentee, which can be plugged into the headphone socket of a smartphone. Scentee uses aroma cartridges that are alcohol-based to diffuse wisps of vapor once it has been triggered into action.

Another device that could assist in making smelltexts mainstream is the pipe-shaped oPhone Duo, which iscapable of producing over 300,000 fragrances by deploying aroma combos from nearly eight vapor cartridges. oPhone enables users to send smelltexts or oNotes via its oSnap app.

Whether smelltexts will indeed be the next big thing or fail to strike a note with consumers like Smell-O-Vision remains to be seen.