[citation][nom]drosencraft[/nom]Touch/Smell through a device is a good idea in limited applications. Some here obviously rarely shop for non-mechanical devices, or lack a great deal of imagination. That said, touch/smell would have to be done right to be useful at all. Not every "cotton" shirt is made to the same standard. It could be useful if you're shopping online to be able to feel what that particular shirt's quality and texture are like. Or for smell, to be able to smell what some restaurant's food smells like, or what some deodorant/perfume/shampoo/detergent/cleaner smells like before you buy it. It is useful in limited scenarios, but those scenarios are very common. They may not constitute a huge percentage of computer activity, but it's something that is likely done by millions of people on a daily basis. Not the most glamorous tech, and I don't think it'll be even on the horizon in next five years due to the complications of synthetically creating variable senses of smell and touch on demand.[/citation]
Non-mechanical devices, no need to know the texture (like a mug's). For buying food/groceries online, you rely on reputation of the store. The rest, like clothes and such, we go to malls/boutiques to shop. No need for useless touch crap. I'm more concerned with how a dress will fit.
Touch: It's very impractical to "texture scan" every item on the catalog especially wasting resources on "below standard" items. Fashion trends always change (maybe except jeans) so they'd be constantly updating the catalog. If you're lazy (always prefer shopping online) or don't have time to go out shopping (to feel out the dress yourself), you probably don't care that much about quality (unless you already know what you are buying).
Smell: They're not talking about artificial odor. It's the computer that will have the sense of smell... not consumer computers anyway. Still, I don't know why you'd want to know the smell of a restaurant's food. Taste isn't always about the smell. Like artificial flavors, smells can be faked (like the smell device will produce).
It's useless to try every smell of detergent/cleaner/shampoo/etc (via smell device) unless you change to a different one every time you ran out. What you're buying/trying is probably cheaper than refilling the chemicals on the smell device. If smell devices can mimic expensive perfume, there's no need to buy the real one.
You say the scenarios are common but all of them are about online shopping. Maybe IBM is trying to make everyone into shut ins or something:
Computers can smell if you are sick (and alert someone), can see and hear what happens in and around your house (and alert someone if it's bad), and tell you what to eat. No need to go out to shop. You can feel what you're buying online through your phone.