This Thursday marks the dawn of a new age - the era of phones that can actually download the smell of anything from roses to rotting vegetables.

The trial being run by Japanese telecoms firm NTT Communications involves mobile phones that can connect to sister company NTT DoCoMo's imode service and physical pong pumps that know how to speak their language.

Previous versions of the Kaori Tsushin (Perfume Communication) technology have attempted to woo beer drinkers into bars with smelly street signs.

Digital instructions

In the trial, 20 participants will get fragrance emitters that come loaded with the basic ingredients for making a range of smells. The recipes for those smells reach the phones from the internet and are then turned into infrared instructions to be beamed from the handset to the glorified air freshener.

NTT hopes phone users will, for example, send emails to friends that urge them to connect to an imode site from where they can download the appropriate data to set off the smell of fresh flowers to be enjoyed in tandem with a picture of said flowers on the screen and a downloaded tune.

Frankly, it all seems a little sad to us - what's wrong with sending real flowers if it's so important?