ChatPerf: Blowing Sweet Smoke

ChatPerf - For Girls!

For this special occasion, my OCD cousin, Rube Sternberg, unemployed fragrance physicist, is making a special guest appearance on Joey and Snake’s Virtual Truckstop of Fragrance Fashion, hosted somewhere in Middlin’ America on community access television (or as Snake’s tea-party friends like to call it, “Obamavision”).  Rube (just to be clear, no relation to my buddy rubegon) is here to explain the new fragrance-transmitting iPhone app, “ChatPerf“…..


“Yee-hah!  Ladies and gentlemen – welcome to the show!  And have we got a treat for you tonight!”

“Absolutely.  It’s not every day that we get somebody from the industry on the show.  Thanks to Snake’s ‘connections’, shall we say….”

“Yeah.  Meanin’ that damn Neil Sternberg owed me big-time for Erwin Creed’s autograph…”

“Well – let’s leave out those sordid details, shall we?  Anyway, thanks to Neil, we have the pleasure of welcoming his cousin Rube Sternberg, who is not only a bottle designer, but has, in fact, designed several of the more unusual fragrance bottles on the market.  Including one that we’re going to show you right now!”

“Um.  Joey?  You sure we can show this thing?”

“Oh, absolutely.  It’s art!  Completely protected by the First Amendment.”

“Well, OK….”

“Voilà!  Sécrétions Magnifiques, Summer of Love Limited Edition.”

“Damn, Joey.  I don’t know what to say.  It looks like a cross between healing crystals and a dildo.”

“But that’s the whole POINT, Snake!  I think it’s an amazing metaphor for the fragrance itself.  Don’t you?”

“Hell, Joey.  We got the man here.  Let’s ask him!”

“Indeed!  I can’t think of a better introduction.  Ladies and gentlemen – Rube Sternberg!”


“Well – aloha to you, too!  And there you go – why, it goes with your Hawaiian shirt!”

“I like Hawaii.”

“Yes, so do I!  Please, have a seat.”

“I like the waves.  I can watch the waves all day….”

“Indeed.  I personally prefer what’s on the beach, but that’s just me.  Snake, of course….”

“….I like to count the waves.”

“Really.  Say – can I ask you a question?”


“Now – you did the bottle for the Sécrétions Magnifiques Summer of Love Limited Edition.  True?”

“Yes.  I like that bottle.”

“So do I.  And that’s interesting.  As the designer, what did you like about it?”

“I like the fact that, if you hold it this way….”

“Point it toward the camera – let the audience see…”

“Damn, Joey!”

“Go on….”

“If you point it that way, it looks like the fragrance when you remember it.  Not when you smell it.  When you remember it.”


“Yes.  It’s got three parts.  Two of them balance, one is in the middle.  But you remember them about the same.  But if you point it this way….”

“Note to the visually impaired:  It now looks like a BIG DICK.”

“Snake!  Down, boy!”

“If you hold it this way, you see that this part is bigger.  This is the shiny, metallic part that freaks people out.”


“But it’s not so bad.”

“Now – I’m dying to ask this – the crystalline facets.”


“What was the impetus behind that look?”

“It’s math.”

“Really!  Any particular kind?”

“Dumb.  Kinda.  Well, I just counted all the different things I could smell.  I resolved them into polygons that made sense, and fit them into the shape of a dildo.”

“See, Joey?  Gimme some cred, bro!”

“Anything else?”

“I don’t know.  It’s kinda personal.”

“That’s OK.  This is kind of a personal show.  Right, Snake?  I mean, only about ten people watch it.”

“Yeah, don’t worry, Rube.  There’s a couple of hot art chicks that watch it, too, but it’s not like they’re gonna tell anybody that they tuned in.”

“OK.  Well.  I think crystals are kinda sexy.  I think naked chicks wearing crystals are hot.”

“You know what they say about diamonds.  Girls love ’em.”

“So I thought about the fragrance.  When I try to smell the fragrance to make it smell like something real, it’s kinda unpleasant like a big gnarly dick.  But when I smell the parts of it just for themselves, it’s kinda nice, like some big-ass crystal.  Can I say dick and big-ass on your show?  Sorry if I can’t.”

“No problem, amigo.  The art chicks are gonna love it.”

“Great.  So that’s when I understood fragrance, and especially this one.  It’s like a wireframe on reality.  Awesome.  BAM.  It all came together for me.”


“So anyway, that’s why the actuator buttons on the lobes housing the impeller mechanism look like nipples.  It’s like my personal signature.  It’s one more way of looking at the fragrance.”

“Hot damn!  I was wondering if there was some reason for that.  I was thinking they might be warts, but they sure looked like nipples.”

“It’s the symmetry.  Warts would be too much of a coincidence.”

“Well if those aren’t warts….. WOO-HOO!”

“Well, they can be warts if you want.  Or nipples.  Or some kind of piercings, if you’re into that.”

“Very interesting.”

“Viewers – please do not try this at home!”

“Yeah.  See – just turn it like this….”


“Snake!  Watch it.  The artistes may be babysitting.”

“See?  Just like fragrance.  It all depends on your point of view.”

“Damn.  Any other ways to look at it?”

“Sure.  You know the plastic base of the tube it comes in?  It pops out, and you can use it as a stand.  You can’t even see the nuts.  I mean impeller housings.  Some people even put the velveteen bag around the stand and it looks like a crystal in a velvet stand.  Just don’t press down on the buttons accidentally, or it’s gonna be raining men.”

“Any difference between the buttons?”

“It’s a secret.  You gotta buy it to find out.”

“V-E-R-Y interesting.”

“Ooooookay boys.  So how about let’s get on with the show?”



ChatPerf – Kinda like a Glade Plug-in for your iPhone. WTF.

“So – Rube – we wanted to ask you about this new thing called ‘ChatPerf‘.  Have you heard about it?  This Japanese thing for your iPhone that transmits scent?”

“Fuckin’ A right.  Can I say ‘fuckin’ A right’ on your show?”

“Just barely.  We’d prefer that you reserve it for special occasions.”

“Will do.  So yeah.  What were we talking about?”


“Oh, yeah.  ChatPerf is pretty ingenious as far as ODN’s go.”



Ozark Do-Nothing. Any resemblance to hadrons is purely coincidental. Note broken symmetry on lower side of upper left corner block.

“Ozark Do-Nothing.  It’s an industry term.”


“A device that makes a lot of commotion but accomplishes no useful purpose.  They’re the /dev/null of RGMs.”

“Which are?”

“Rube Goldberg machines.  Things that make a lot of commotion to accomplish very little.  ODNs are a special case of RGMs.  But technically ChatPerf is a transmitting ODN, which is not the funniest kind, but the easiest kind to sell.”

“OK, bro.  You’re gonna have to explain all that.  You lost me at ‘no useful purpose’.  Isn’t ChatPerf supposed to be some great thing that sends a fragrance from one point to another?”


“Come again?  No reference to our previous discussion intended.”

“It doesn’t actually do anything other than attach an atomizer to your iPhone and possibly put it under somebody else’s control.  Think of it.  It’s like a more efficient version of sending a sample to somebody and then sending them a text to spray it.  The fragrance is just some finished juice that got to you by snail mail.  Only the instruction to spray it got sent over the air.”

“So that device isn’t some amazing gizmo that breaks down a fragrance and transmits it from one place to another?”

“For about sixty bucks?  Hell – you’d be lucky to get the Apple version of a Glade Plug-in at that price.  All this is, you might say, is a glorified atomizer ring tone.  Which is kind of a neat idea, but not exactly groundbreaking.  It’s sort of like turning an iPod Nano into a watch.  I mean, duh.  Of course, some guy got rich doing it.”

“Damn.  Hell, Rube.  We thought you were gonna tell us how it worked.”

“I just did.”


“This is the smell of my jaw dropping.”

“I was kinda wondering why you guys wanted me on the show.”

“So let me get this straight.  This device is just some gizmo that sprays a fragrance on command from the iPhone?”

“Yeah.  So if you can load the fragrance into it, it can spray it.  Not sure if it will take your vintage Mitsouko or not.  I know it will take their fragrances – they sell special containers of them, that look like they have special adapters.  They look like single fragrances, as far as I can tell.  The olfactory equivalent of printing cartridges.”

ChatPerf and Fragrances

ChatPerf and Fragrances. Start saving for the bankrupting refills now.

“And what a fucking racket that is.  Excuse my French.  And that’s it?”

“Well, there’s the software.  It integrates with the iPhone.  So if it’s something that your phone can do, you can hook it up.  Send a command to somebody, put it on a timer, make it your ringtone – whatever.  That’s how come they’re offering an SDK.  So geeks can come up with apps that use it.  Maybe some punk kid’ll come up with the killer app that makes everybody go nuts for the idea.”


“Software Development Kit.  Everybody has them.  They’re kinda like candy to get geeks into the white panel truck of your start-up technology.  Some of these things make me feel like yelling for the cops, too.”

“So these guys in Japan made a device?  And now they want people to write software to do stuff with it?”

“Bingo.  More stuff than they already have.  They’re trying to get the ball rolling.”

“Is that all?”

“Well, they have multiple fragrances.  Or as the website says, ‘Many perfumes is available.‘  They show four.”

“Can you load them at the same time?  I mean, can you choose?”

“Don’t think you can now – the device looks too simple to accommodate multiple fragrances simultaneously.  I don’t even know if you’ll be able to at some point, with this hardware, but having multiple fragrances to choose from would certainly be a desirable feature.”

“Do you think they’ll do it?”

“Maybe.  It looks like they’re looking to get started, and maybe the technology will grow.”

“I gotta admit, it could be fun.  Don’tcha think?”

“It’s kinda stupid, just like fragrance.  I mean, think about it.  We spend sixty bucks on a bottle of liquid that smells good.  So you spend sixty bucks on an atomizer that attaches to your iPhone, and instead of pressing down on the sprayer, you press a button on your iPhone.  Of you could do Fume-to-Fume with somebody, and THEY could press the button and spray your fragrance.”

“Or they could pick a fragrance.  They could pick your scent of the day!”

“Maybe not yet, but I’m sure it’s possible.  Maybe in version 2.0 or something.”

“God, Snake.  It’s SO underwhelming.  I’m depressed.  Quick – give me that bottle of Sécrétions Magnifiques.”

“Damn, Joey.  Think of it this way – we’re like Fragrance Mythbusters tonight.”

“There’s a thought.  So what would those cute blonde guys do at this point?”

“Hell, yeah!  They’d start figuring out how to make the myth work!”

“Great idea!  So Rube?  How would you make it work?  I mean actually transmitting a fragrance from one place to another?”

“No way, guys.  Sorry.  I gotta hang onto my cards so I can get a real gig.  Designing bottles for niche houses isn’t exactly payin’ the rent.”

“What about stuff that’s too advanced to do in our lifetime?  You could spill about that.”

“Forget it, Snake.  Everything is happening faster than you think.  Crap you thought was science fiction is gonna happen before you know it.”

“Even iPhone apps that transmit fragrance?”

“Yeah.  It’s feasible.  Not right away, but it’s totally feasible.  There are some unfinished problems, but there are obvious solutions.  It’s like Neil says about a potential rock climb when there are enough holds to do it.  It’s all there.

“Damn!  That would be so cool!  Can you imagine sending a fart?”

“Can you believe it, Rube?  A triumph of technology, and all he wants to do is send a fart with it.  I can’t believe we’re related.”

“Actually, sending a fart is a great gedanken experiment.  Mobile headspace technology totally solves the problem of picking up the signal.  But it’s how to simplify it after that – that’s the kicker.  A neat problem.  Very ‘Tesla’.  But this new ChatPerf thing is nice ’cause it’s very ‘Edison’.  It’s agile.  It’s like, ‘let’s get some stakes in the ground and start coding’.  I dig it.  Sometimes you gotta build your ODN or your RGM before you build an iPad.  It’s like all those laptops and palmtops and pocket PCs and Blackberries and netbooks and iPad prototypes that had to exist before the iPad arrived.  The last leap was big, but there were a bunch of great steps that brought the world to that position.  So it’s nice that somebody is actually taking first steps.”

“Oh my God.  My sense of being underwhelmed is gone!  It’s like some kind of historic moment!”

“Kinda.  Somebody just decided to go ahead and start doing something.  Even if it doesn’t include a bunch of headspace technology and whatnot.  The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

“And transmitting fragrance begins with…..”

“An iPhone atomizer.”

“Oh God.  I’m underwhelmed again.”

“Hell, Joey.  Just buy one.  It’s better than hanging out at Marshall’s looking for lost Guerlains.”

“Good idea!  It could be fun.”

“See, guys.  Sometimes it pays to just do it.”

“OK, on that note, let’s wrap up.  Your final thoughts.  Rube?”

“Everything on Star Trek becomes true.  That means the next step is Bluetooth, and it’s gonna look like a silvery salt shaker that you wave around while your iPhone works.  Count on it!”



“Every has-been mobile technology ends up in Marshall’s, right next to the fragrance area.  This has the inevitability of unboxed Burberry plus an iPhone charger.  Don’t wait for it to go to the style graveyard – get it now.”


“Fragrance is all lies.  Lying about lies is clearly the next step.  I approve of this abuse of technology.”

ChatPerf - Destined to come to a concert near you.  Sniff the Glove!

ChatPerf – Destined to come to a concert near you. Sniff the Glove!

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