Odours of perfumes are mostly categorised as 'citrus', 'woody', 'floral' or 'oriental' but experts continue to describe the same fragrance with different words.
Scientists have announced development and successful testing of the first perfumery radar (PR) - a long-awaited new tool for bringing scientific order to the often-arbitrary process of classifying the hundreds of odours that make up perfumes.
According to Alirio Rodrigues and colleagues, it relies on plots (see graphic), similar to the displays used to track aircraft.
They used the PR to classify the primary odour families of 14 commercial perfumes and found that the results closely matched those of experienced perfume makers.
With the PR, manufacturers could speed up the development of new perfumes - namely the so-called preformulation stage in which they experimentally evaluate the product - thus saving time and money, the report stated.
The study appears in ACS' journal Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research.