You've Got Mail, And It Smells Like 18th Century Paris | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

You've Got Mail, And It Smells Like 18th Century Paris

Play associated audio

First there was the Smell-O-Vision, a technology that brought aromas to movie theater audiences. Then there was Scratch 'n' Sniff, paper you could smell.

Now, a company in Paris has developed a mobile phone that sends aromatic text messages. It's called the oPhone — "o" for olfactory.

David Edwards, the mastermind behind the oPhone, is a Harvard University professor and the founder of Le Laboratoire in Paris. He and his students thought up a way to transmit all kinds of aromas, "from bread and flowers to the smell of Paris 300 years ago," he says.

These aromas are preprogrammed into the oPhone device, which has four small fingernail-sized chips that act as "ink cartridges for aroma," Edwards says. Air flows through them in different ways to produce various smells.

On one end, a user can type a message and attach a related smell, and someone with an oPhone on the receiving end will get a small whiff.

Edwards says communication is just missing something without a smell. "Clearly, [there's] a big difference between me saying to you the word 'croissant,' or even showing you a picture of a croissant, and you smelling a croissant," he says.

He's working with businesses like coffee shops to make the oPhone part of the consumer experience. Edwards says oPhones will be for sale in late fall, although you can't record your own smells yet.

"However, being able to transmit the aroma of what I'm experiencing through a kind of a camera is imaginable, so I think that will be coming," he says.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Vaccine Controversies Are As Social As They Are Medical

In writing her new book On Immunity, Eula Biss found that questions about vaccination touch on attitudes about environmentalism, citizenship and trust in the government.
NPR

Millennial Jews Embrace Keeping Kosher

According to a 2013 Pew Research Center study, nearly a fourth of millennial Jews are keeping kosher. That's almost twice the rate of their baby boomer parents.
NPR

GOP Candidate In Michigan's U.S. Senate Race Avoids Media

Michigan has an open seat because Democrat Carl Levin is retiring. GOP candidate Terri Lynn Land is running a low-key campaign. Democratic Rep. Gary Peters leads in polls, but the race is close.
NPR

Kids And Screen Time: Cutting Through The Static

One Los Angeles school is working technology into the learning process, while avoiding the traditional screen-time pitfalls.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.