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Brief Published: 4 Nov 2013

Ophone: Sending Scent


The Ophone is a Bluetooth-enabled device that emits smells using digital information received via smartphone.

Conceived by Paris-based experimental science organisation Le Laboratoire, the Ophone allows users to select and arrange the smells they want to send into a personal “symphony” via the Ophone mobile app. The app can create up to 320 different smells, which can be sent to another Ophone device via the user’s smartphone.

The first prototype was unveiled in Paris over the summer, and at last month’s Wired conference in London, Le Laboratoire unveiled its second-generation device. The Le Laboratoire team invited attendees at Wired 2013 to its “virtual coffee bar” to create and send their own coffee scents over to Paris.

By translating physical smells into data, scent could be used as a communication method in a similar way to how voice and images are used now. “We see the London experiment as a first step towards composing a sophisticated aromatic vocabulary that might permit, one day, unpredictably rich olfactory communication,” the organisation said on its website.

Olfactory experimentation is inspiring everyone from set designers to healthcare professionals. Take a look at Scent and Dementia, The Scent of Place and Directions in Scent for more imaginative applications of this medium.