The phone that plays you smells

by Toby Manhire / 15 November, 2013
The Ophone aims to triumph where Smell-o-Vision and scratch-and-sniff foundered.

For some reason, Smell-O-Vision is no longer offered in cinemas. Neither is Scratch’n’Sniff these days found on the covers of comics. But the pursuit of a way to “play” smell continues.

And the frontrunner appears to be the “Ophone”. Designed by Le Laboratoire, the Ophone is “a cylindrical device that rests atop a base supplied with a number of chemicals”, explains Daniel Etherington at TechCrunch.

“It doesn’t transmit sound or receive sounds like your iPhone: It can receive encoded transmissions that tell it what kind of smells to play.”

Paul Sawers at TheNextWeb elaborates:

The general idea is this: you send your Ophone-owning friend a quick whiff of caramel-infused coffee rather than, say, a text message. The recipient then pulls their Ophone out of their bag, breathes in a beautiful blend of the good stuff, and then continues on their way.

Didn't work out.

Which invites the obvious question: why? The creators of the device, which so far can mix from as many as 320 different scents, envisage a future in which “delivery mechanisms for the olfactory units are built-into every device, making it possible for your cellphone, TV remote control or anything else to offer up a scent shot”, says Etherington.

“It’s still pretty sci-fi, but it’s a lot more palatable (and eligible for consumerization) in this form than having a fog machine shoot a foul-smelling cloud in your direction, which is how others’ efforts have come off in the past.”
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