Enter the maze

On from Smell-O-Vision

by Jane Waite, Queen Mary University of London

Fish Eyes / Heads: copyright www.istockphoto.com 9642800

A phone that smells has just come up roses! You don't need to smell a rat - this is the real deal! A scent creating phone and an aroma app hits the market in 2015!

Since the early 1900's pioneers of scent technology have sought the extra dimension of smell as part of the experience of plays and films. As early as 1906 electric fans wafted scent over theatre goers. A few years later a theatre sprayed perfume from ceilings. In the 1960's the Smell-o-Vision film experience and Aromarama process used scents such as tobacco, grass and horses to accompany particular films. Sadly, the idea wasn't popular and was stopped in its scented tracks.

Then in 2013, Haruka Matsukura of Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology demonstrated her prototype 'smelling screen'. The image of a peach smelled, well, just like a peach! Tiny fans wafted scent from 'aroma flasks' hidden in odour releasing vents to pinpoint accuracy in front of an image. It looks like chocolate and it smells like it, too. As yet, Haruka's invention hasn't gone on to be sold but research started at Harvard University has!

In 2012, Harvard professor, David Edwards, encouraged his class to 'create a virtual world of aroma'. Three years later, he and his former student Rachel Field, are launching the oPhone.

Do you smell something fishy? No, this is how the oPhone works! You smell something delicious and see a piping hot pizza, you snap a pic and use your oPhone app to figure out the 'aroma recipe'. Tag your photo and send scent. Your friend gets the pizza picture and the 'aroma recipe' that can be recreated with their oPhone! Just how does the oPhone do it? It contains 8 cartridges of scents, oChips, each with 4 scents. The latest oPhone Duo can create over 300,000 unique aromas. The oPhone translates the pizza aroma recipe into a scent using combinations of heated oChips.

Field and her team are planning to launch oPhone hotspots, in Paris, France and Cambridge, Massachusetts so you can try out the aromatic experience. Can you imagine sharing a smell with a friend who is hundreds of miles away, there must be some responsible use issues here, only nice smells please!

Smells, memories and diaries

Smells can evoke memories, help us learn, change our mood, even change what we do! Think of a peeled orange, how does it make you feel? Does the scent of the sea remind you of a place, or a particular perfume of a person. If you smell fire, what do you do!

Why not make a scent diary, or ask your parents about memorable scents from their childhood. Perhaps make a scent jar (for example, mix coffee beans in a jam jar with a dozen or so drops of an essential oil like Orange and Cinnamon Bark).