Communicating with All Your Senses: Sending Aromatic Texts

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When it comes to our eyes and ears, we've conquered the limitations that distance poses for communication. We see things that are thousands of miles away, thanks to the cameras on our phones, and it's just as natural to us to hear the voices of loved ones from far away. But what about our other senses? What if there were a way to share other types of sensory experiences across distances?

With the new "oPhone," created by David Edwards and Rachel Field, soon it may be possible to share olfactory experience through your mobile devices. From 32 base scents, the oPhone is capable of forming over 300,000 composite scents that you can send to any friends who also have an oPhone device. Smell has long been described as the sense most closely attached to our memories, and according to Edwards, it's perfectly suited to mobile media. "Since your nose loses its sensitivity to scent after a relatively short period, it’s better for an aroma to be detected in the short term," he says. "Your nose is made for olfactory tweets."

At first read, I'll admit that I was somewhat skeptical of this idea, but the more I thought about it, the less implausible the idea of being "sensory pen pals" seemed to me. As I said above, we've already naturalized our experiences of sight and sound at a distance. Why not extend our communication possibilities into other senses, which may arguably be even more intimate?

For more on the oPhone, visit Design Milk.

(Image credits: Design Milk)

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Carolyn is a lover of all things colorful and quirky. She grew up in Texas and settled in Chicago by way of L.A., England and Paris. Currently, she is a professor at Illinois Institute of Technology.