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Soon, your computer may stink on purpose

Procter & Gamble has formed a research alliance with Digi-Scents Inc., which is developing ways to bring smells to computers.

Neither company disclosed the terms of the alliance.

DigiScents, of Oakland, Calif., has developed software _ Scent-Stream _ to transmit smells over the Internet. The company places scents on a spectrum of smells based on their chemical composition. This allows the smells to be digitized so they can be transmitted as a small file attached to any kind of Internet content, game, e-mail, movies or music.

The file instructs an iSmell Personal Scent Synthesizer to emit from one to more than 100 basic scents to replicate the smell at the receiver's computer. The scents come from a cartridge that, the company says, contain "natural materials commonly found in the cosmetics, foods and beverages consumers use daily." The cartridge is similar to a printer cartridge, a spokesman said.

The synthesizer, a small device that can be plugged into computers, is still in development but should be available this fall. It is expected to cost about as much as a computer speaker, the company said. So far, DigiScents has distributed its software to more than 200 game developers.