They’re powerful things, smells. A deliciously sweet, delicate waft from a donut stand. The overpowering odour of a passing rubbish truck. One makes you salivate, the other forces you to hold your breath. And soon you could experience both, simply by receiving a picture on your smartphone.
David Edwards, a professor at Harvard and head of the science/art innovation lab at Le Laboratoire, has revealed the oPhone Duo – a device which emits scents called oNotes, courtesy of an app called oSnap.
The oSnap app lets users take a photo and tag it with a combination of scents from a library of 32 aromas, which are initially focused around food and coffee. oChip scent cartridges provide the scents, and over 300,000 smell combinations can be created.
Instagram users with feeds littered with plates of food will rejoice of course, we’re not entirely convinced.
The idea of receiving scents is an interesting one, but the oPhone Duo itself is too bulky to fit inside devices (for the time being), which rules out on-the-go sniffing, making it less convenient.
And while receiving a photo of a vase of freshly picked wildflowers might be rather pleasant, we can see the system being abused once more scents are added.
A dash of burnt tire here, a little rotten egg there, a sprinkle of salty garbage and bam – you’ve just sent skunk spray to your friends. We’re sure they’ll be delighted.
Still, it’s an expression of art as much as anything else, and you’ll be able to try out the oPhone Duo for yourself over the next year, where it’ll travel from Le Laboratoire in Paris, to the Natural History Museum in New York City. Assuming you’re in the area, that is.
In the likely event that you’re not going to be in the right place at the right time, you can pre-order your very own oPhone for $150 on indiegogo, with an estimated delivery date of April 2015.
Smell ya later.