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.”
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.
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.”