The Swiss fragrances group, Givaudan, is to take an undisclosed stake in the United States technology company, DigiScents.
Givaudan, which was spun-off from Swiss drugs giant Roche in June, said it was entering an exclusive agreement with DigiScents, which is a California -based start-up that's trying to give computers a sense of smell.
In an interview on Sunday, DigiScents chief executive, Joel Bellenson, said that Givaudan along with Dutch group, Quest, have both taken minority stakes in return for being named "preferred fragrance suppliers" of the pioneering technology company.
"This deal is the largest joint investment by the fragrance industry in a new technology company," said Bellenson. "The fragrance makers are a key part of our supply chain. Their backing lays the groundwork for much deeper collaboration."
No financial details were disclosed on the Givaudan investment.
By the second half of next year, major players in the advertising, packaged goods and video games industries expect to begin using DigiScents' digital smell sensing technology to recreate thousands of odours via a personal computer-based smell-amplifying device.
Bellenson said the initial deal covered only the development of the company's sent emission system. Givaudan and Quest will supply the raw materials that DigiScents will use to create scent cartridges used to create odours.
The cartridges work like colour print cartridges, but instead of supplying ink to paper they pump a palette of scents into the air.
Digiscents'iSmell consumer device, which looks like a small stereo speaker, connects to a PC and can blend 128 basic scents into a much larger number of smells.
swissinfo with agencies