Ophone Sends Olfactive Messages Across Continents

When confronted with a pleasant smell, be it a perfume or a delicious and exotic food, we sometimes want to share the experience, only to find that distance prevents to do that. The Ophone is a Bluetooth device that might be able to change that.

On April Fools’ Day, this year, Google wanted to trick us into thinking that its search engine could be used for exploring odors. Obviously, Google Nose turned out to be a prank, even though it had been executed exquisitely. With that in mind, MIT professor and Le Laboratoire founder David Edwards went on to create the world’s first smell-o-phone.

In the quest for designing and developing the Ophone, Edwards was helped by Harvard students Rachel Field and Amy Yin, Olivier Pescheux, master perfumer at Givaudin in Paris, Ryan Spinoglio, Toby’s Estate sensory and quality manager, Le Laboratoire, The Wyss Institute at Harvard, and Studio Millimetre designers Baptiste Viala and Laurent Milon. With so many minds at work, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the products they conceived is actually working.

Edwards is aware of the Google Nose prank, so he specifically wanted to use an Android smartphone for this experiment, to prove Google that it is actually possible to send olfactive messages across a room in the first stage, and between continents later on. The Ophone is in fact a Bluetooth-enabled device that is paired with the Android smartphone.

In the following video we get to see a demonstration of how the Ophone works. Edwards ran a special app on the Android smartphone that enabled him to send the scent of a specific type of coffee to a nearby the smell-o-phone. He then proceeded to sending the same scent to an Ophone across the room. It should be noted that a text message can also be sent alongside the scent. Such a feature might become necessary when a description of the smell is required. After all, the receptor of the olfactive message might not be aware of the nature of the smell.


The Ophone was exhibited at Le Laboratoire in Paris between May 17 and September 15, 2013, but it will undoubtedly make other appearances in the future, as well. During that time, visitors had chance to send a unique aroma of coffee straight to Spinoglio, in Sydney, Australia. It might be a small step, but this, along with the Smell-o-Vision TV screens developed in Japan confirm that vapor communication is closer to reality.

If you like this post, please check the Japanese Smell-o-Vision TV screens and Domino’s pizza smelling DVDs.