In a breakthrough, scientists have developed a new kind of smartphone that can send scents via email, tweet, or text. A Paris laboratory under the direction of David Edwards, Michigan Technological University alumnus, has created the oPhone that allows odours – oNotes – to be sent, via Bluetooth and smartphone attachments, to oPhones across the globe.
The scents can be sent via email, tweet, or text, researchers said. “We create unique aromatic profiles,” said Blake Armstrong, director of business communications at Vapour Communications, an organisation operating out of Le Laboratorie (Le Lab) in Paris. “We put that into the oChip that faithfully renders that smell,” said Armstrong.
Edwards said that the initial four chips that will come with the first oPhones can be combined into thousands different odours – produced for 20 to 30 seconds – creating what he calls “an evolution of odour.” The secret is in accurate scent reproduction, locked in those chips plugged into the devices. Odours are first captured in wax after which they are perfected by an aroma expert at Le Lab, Marlene Staiger – who deconstructs the scents.
For example, with coffee, “the most universally recognised aroma,” she replaces words like “citrus” or “berry” with actual scents that will be created by ordering molecules and combining them in different percentages. “Imagine you are online and want to know what a particular brand of coffee would smell like. Or, you are in an actual long line waiting to order. You just tap on the oNote and get the experience,” Edwards said. The result for all oPhone recipients is a pure cloud of scent close to the device. Perhaps six inches in diameter, it is released and then disappears, retaining its personal and subtle aura.
Improvements are already planned for an end-of-year Beta release of the scent-transmitting phone to a limited audience. Researchers will be seeking feedback before a broader release in 2015.
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