Among the multitude of startups going for the next 2013 months International CES will be the one who is trying to break through all the noise by stinking the joint. Literally.This is the goal of Charlene Coleman, founder and CEO of Acumen sensory, a joint bootstrapped from Orinda, Calif., who spent the last three years working on a device called GameSkunk, spewing all kinds of flavors for people as they play video games.
At least that’s the hope. “We thought it would bring the games to another level,” said Coleman, who is now working on agreements with game developers. “They already have a great sound and music.” The idea is not new smellevision. He was tried in theaters 50 years ago, actually.And at least another startup, Scent Sciences, is also trying to add some pleasure to the olfactory multimedia world. The methods differ, however, and challenges, including the search for partners who want to work in their odor electronics certainly are not small. But, hey, that’s what successful startups are all about – fighting other ideas dismiss as reckless. That’s why Coleman, a veteran industry marketing consumer electronics, CES hopes leads to all kinds of connections and unpredictable markets. She will be one of the 140 matches – against 100 last year – created in booths at Eureka Park, which is running ESC created exclusively for startups. As was the case last year, showing the types of companies are all over the map – a manufacturer of cases that enhance the sound of your phone company for a renewable energy system battery and a team with roots at Carnegie Mellon University that is coming to demo their robot toy. The idea began to GameSkunk with husband Coleman, an avid player who started wishing aromas immersive gaming included.
Then Coleman, who has worked for Sony and Panasonic, it was decided to make a go of it. The couple invested their own money. They brought a team of five software and hardware engineers. They teamed up with fragrance and flavor scientists, began the construction of a prototype, and were selected in addition to being Startup America, a national organization led by AOL founder Steve Case. Her most recent version of the device, which they will show at CES, can connect to a computer via USB or wireless working, so it could be used with a gaming console. He keeps cartridges that contain the smells you need. Coleman explained: “A play kitchen may have onion, raw foods and cooked foods in a war game, a burning building, you can smell the smoke If you fall, you will smell the earth or grass … ” Through an API, developers can build in the game that odors go. It is all torn through a compressor – no fan – and Coleman said odor reaches the player within 3 meters, in less than 3 seconds. Neat idea, sure, but it’s a tall challenge. On one hand, she needs to board game manufacturers, which is something she says she is working hard now. Moreover, the system is not compatible with all games already on the market – something more your team is working. However, his adventure, including through Startup America, has led to some unexpected connections. And who knows, maybe she’ll find yourself doing the classic pivot in markets other than the games.
Actually, GameSkunk already found a niche market with doctors treating various psychological conditions, particularly post-traumatic stress. Scent, of course, is a powerful trigger of memory, and psychologists at the University of Southern California are incorporating technology Coleman in their treatment regimen to help veterans cope with PTSD. Using a simulator, they run a program called “Virtual Iraq,” which creates a 360 degree interactive, thanks to the foresight sensory issues all types of odors veterinarians found in Iraq and Afghanistan. This system will be available at CES so attendees can get a sense – and smell – of how everything works. Coleman says she also heard manufacturers and retailers. “Some come to us and said they want the smell of certain products pushed runners,” she said. So while your goal is to launch GameSkunk in the consumer market around mid-2013, perhaps we are smelling his work so far, without even realizing it.