Almost 55 years ago, Smell-O-Vision made its debut in a few American movie theaters, and shortly thereafter was relegated to the dustbin of film history. But today an Indiegogo project aims to deliver—finally—on the promise of transmitting olfactory experiences from one point to another. The oPhone Duo, which needs to raise $150,000 this month to start production, sends smells.
Here’s how it works: When you send picture messages to someone using the oPhone app, you’ll also choose super-specific scents to go with it. The recipient’s phone will then create those smells when your message arrives. The machine boasts the ability to generate more than 300,000 distinct odors by mixing from a palate of 32 basic ones. Think of a painter blending blue and yellow to get different shades of green.
One downside: The oPhone Duo is very big. It’s almost the size of a single-serve coffeemaker, so you can’t exactly carry it around to receive smell-messages on the go. But there’s also a plan for the oPhone Uno—a portable version of the original. Anyone who buys an oPhone Duo through the fund-raising campaign (a $149 donation) will receive the pocketable version for just $1. Though the Uno will be able to create only 40,000 smells, that’s still a pretty robust library of aromas.
You don’t have to wait until April 2015, when the Duo ships, to get the oPhone experience. There are currently oPhone Duo demo stations set up in New York at the American Museum of Natural History and in Paris at Le Laboratoire.