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Send a Scent via Text? Smelltext Might be Big in 2015 ... or Not

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Sending a scent via text messaging is poised to be the next big thing in 2015, says British innovation charity Nesta.

According to the group's top 10 prediction list for 2015, "smell-o-grams" or smelltexts via a smartphone will be the craze in the coming months.

Imagine that instead of buying roses for your loved one, you can send him or her a smell-o-gram via your smartphone. Sounds far-fetched? Not at all.

In 1960, Smell-O-Vision, a similar system that diffused odors, was used during the screening of the film Scent of Mystery. The idea was to make cinemagoers associate the smell with the ongoing action in each scene. However, the invention did not go down too well with viewers. Time magazine even voted it the worst invention ever.

The concept for 2015 perhaps reeks the smell of success, thanks to the advent of more advanced applications. Earlier in 2014, researchers at Harvard deployed an iPhone app to communicate the smell of macaroons and champagne from Paris to New York.

"Imagine the next selfie you see posted is accompanied by the scent of perfume. The Instagram photo of your gourmet steak dinner comes with a whiff of buttery mashed potatoes," said Josh McNorton, Nesta's project manager. "In 2015, I predict that the ability to digitally transmit smells will hit the mainstream."

Sending smells along with a picture over the smartphone is already possible because of Adrian Cheok's invention Scentee, which can be plugged into the headphone socket of a smartphone. Scentee uses aroma cartridges that are alcohol-based to diffuse wisps of vapor once it has been triggered into action.

Another device that could assist in making smelltexts mainstream is the pipe-shaped oPhone Duo, which is capable of producing over 300,000 fragrances by deploying aroma combos from nearly eight vapor cartridges. oPhone enables users to send smelltexts or oNotes via its oSnap app.

Whether smelltexts will indeed be the next big thing or fail to strike a note with consumers like Smell-O-Vision remains to be seen.

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