Smell of Data Grenade Warns Your Nose About Virtual Danger

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

A pair of clued-up so-and-sos who definitely read tech sites, probably don’t use Yahoo Mail and say they’re concerned about how nobody really cares about their personal data when free public Wi-Fi is available, have revealed an odd new creation they reckon will make us double down on matters of online privacy.

Leanne Wijnsma and Froukje Tanto have cooked up the Smell of Data fragrance grenade... thing, an odd little device that spews out a metallic scent when you stumble across an unprotected website or Wi-Fi network. Is it all just a strange joke? I'm not entirely sure. Why they opted against rotten eggs though is beyond me.

“The Smell of Data is a new scent developed as an alert mechanism for a more instinctive internet,” says a promotional video on the Smell of Data website. “Smell data? Beware of data leaks. They can lead to privacy violation, behaviour control and identity theft.”

The idea is said to have been inspired by the government, which adds artificial scent to odourless natural gases in order to help us quickly detect leaks and stop us from accidentally blowing ourselves up.

"After Snowden's revelations a discussion about privacy started and awareness of possible risks was raised," said Wijnsma "People started caring about their privacy a lot, but I was surprised that real action, even though sometimes simple, was hardly taken."

The bottle picture above is just a prototype, with Wijnsma and Tanto looking to eventually create a wearable Smell of Data device in an attempt to increase its appeal. If I had one, I’d almost certainly spend my time seeking out the dodgiest places on the internet just to set it off. I’d also clip it just above my backside and make everybody gather round. [Dezeen]