Published March 03, 2014
If the aroma of sweet, buttery coffee is something you want to share with friends – even friends who live miles away – you soon may have the option of doing so through a device called the “oPhone.”
Harvard researcher David Edwards and a team of his students are developing a technology that, once completed, will allow scents to be passed along through a text message, phone call or social media application via a Bluetooth-capable smartphone, tablet or computer.
“The oPhone is in development. It will be available for use notably in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from July and commercially from later this year,” Edwards told FoxNews.com via email from France.
A new scent-based messaging app called oNotes will be available July 10 to send the nose-news, he said. But in order to “download” an aromatic message, you’ll need the oPhone, an accessory that can be used with countless different devices. Each oChip – a small cartridge that produces hundreds of odor signals – will do the work of emitting thousands of unique odors for at least 20 to 30 seconds.
“The oChip is like the ink cartridge of the oPhone,” Edwards explained. “It contains the basic aromatic material that gets mixed to produce hundreds of unique aromas per oPhone.”
The oPhone website, Vapor Communications, whimsically explains its vision: “Imagine a less stressful, more sensual, incredibly inclusive world of global communications where a moving gesture of friendship, a culinary pleasure, and a childhood memory are all just a touch away. This is the world we hope to create with the oPhone.”
Edwards believes that beyond sending complex smells to and from any place on the globe, the oPhone will also help people who are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease by triggering memories associated with certain scents.
“It may have beneficial effects with respect to memory, stress relief, weight control, among other conditions,” he said.
Cost of the oPhone, which links to a smartphone or other device via Bluetooth, has not yet been determined.
“You should imagine the oPhone will be around the price of a phone, and oChips priced low enough to encourage the same frequency of use as M&Ms for an M&M lover.”