The oPhone's scent-texting is another thing from the movies that became reality
What could be the next big thing in messaging apps? Hint - it isn't Slingshot. Although the app is anything but lousy, it doesn't really smell like gold. The oPhone, however, does. Fashioned by Vapor Communications, the odor-ific phone relies on a "scent texting" system invented by Harvard's David Edwards and Rachel Field. It is, indeed, able to transmit scents over the air on a large distance. The oPhone's demonstration in NYC marked the world's first transatlantic scent exchange.
In its current incarnation, the oPhone looks more like a little boat, and definitely not like something you'd take to a restaurant and "document" your meals with. It has two cylinders that propel 10-second bursts of aromas towards your curious nostrils as the smells are cooked up within the proprietary oChip. The oChip is a cartridge that's able to diffuse 32 aromas in 300 000 combinations, and the oPhone has eight of these cartridges. The technology is focused on food and coffee scents for now, but the potential to prank your friends with the stench of stinky socks is still there.
So, how does the whole thing play out? Users download the free iOS app "oSnap", photograph their meals, and tag it with the appropriate smells – in the future, the last step will be automatic. The so-called "oNote" is sent over e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter to "oPhone hotspots" around the world. As the technology is a showroom piece for now, these are positioned only in Manhattan, Paris, and Cambridge, so plan your trip accordingly.
Vapor wants to launch the oPhone as early as 2015, so it put together an Indiegogo campaign. If the fundraiser goes as planned, the device will sell for $199 ($149 on pre-sale). Edwards admits that the first oPhone will be "more of a massive focus group" than the done deal, but if the technology works smooth enough, users should be pretty enthusiastic to the idea. And when the whole thing gets shrunk to fit modern smartphones, app creators' imagination will be on fire. "Illustrating" a photo with an authentic scent will deliver a bold impact. In the professor's own words, “I say to you 'croissant', and you say ‘Oh, that sounds good,’ but you smell it and you’re hungry.”