Sunday, March 16, 2014

THE INTERNET OF SMELLS: Startups Race To Cash In On The Latest Fad

Business Insider - "Today we're going to show you the world's first olfactive message."
Harvard professor David Edwards is sitting on the back of a couch at Le Laboratoire, the art and design studio he opened in Paris seven years ago. His casual perch and thick-rimmed glasses make him look more student than teacher, but the thicket of gray in his stubble gives him away.
"So here I have an Android phone and we have an application that's called oNotes," he says to a group of twenty-somethings in cardigans. "Amy, which coffee would you like to smell?"
Amy Yin, a Harvard student and Edwards' collaborator, orders espresso. Edwards taps his phone and Yin lifts a small white box to her nose. Two, maybe three seconds pass before she shoots her arm into the air. "I got it!" Yin passes the box to the man next to her. He sniffs. "Yeah, it's good." Pass. Sniff. "Oh wow, it's strong." Pass. Sniff. "Oh delicious."
The device in her hand is the oPhone, which isn't a phone at all. It's a finger-sized plastic cylinder that encases four oChips, each holding four distinct odors captured in wax. "Like ink cartridges for aroma," Edwards says. Those 16 aromas, called oNotes, are the handiwork of an aroma expert who reduced a variety of scents down to their component parts, creating a periodic table of smells. The first oPhones will be able to piece those elements together into hundreds of aromas. 

Future versions will produce thousands, Edwards says. When the oPhone goes on sale later this year, users will be able to send those scents via a mobile app, which will also host a social network enabling users to share personalized aromas. Think of it as an Instagram for smells.   Read More