We are all familiar with "scratch-and-sniff" products. They have been around since the 1970s - mainly in the form of stickers. But these products are yesterday's news. Researchers have now created a device that could allow us to "text-and-sniff." It is called the oPhone.
Created by David Edwards and colleagues at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences in Massachusetts, the oPhone enables odors - labeled "oNotes" - to be sent via email, tweet or text to other oPhones using bluetooth and smartphone attachments.
Edwards, also a student at Michigan Technological University, says the technology may be useful in the world of health care - particularly for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and mental illness.
The oPhone does not work like a normal cell phone. It does not transmit or receive sounds.
Instead, the cylinder-shaped device consists of a set of disposable "oChips" that can store and emit hundreds of different odors for between 20 and 30 seconds.
The fragrances are created by Marlène Staiger, an aroma expert at a laboratory in France called Le Laboratoire. She deconstructs the scents before capturing them in wax.
The oPhone will be released to a limited audience for beta testing later this year, which will provide the research team with feedback before releasing a first commercial product at the end of the year.