Mobile phones with ‘smellovision' will "hit the mainstream" in 2015, according to innovation charity Nesta.
The practice of digitally transmitting the scent of perfume, coffee or even nuovelle cuisine via SMS or Instagram will take off next year, Nesta predicted, as part of its annual list of trends it thinks will shape our lives over the coming 12 months.
"It's been half a century since the concept was first introduced to unimpressed cinema audiences and we've since voted it one of the worst inventions of all time," said Nesta's Josh McNorton.
"But while we've turned our noses up at past attempts, I believe 2015 is the year smellovision will finally lose its stink."
Nesta fingered Japan-based Scentee, which makes a fragrance-emitting smartphone add-on (pictured, above), as one of the current market leaders in the space. Earlier this year, it paired up with Spanish eatery Mugaritz to virtually evoke the aromas of its signature dishes.
But Adrian Cheok, the City University London professor who developed the technology behind Scentee, is already working on a device that doesn't rely on chemicals or pre-set cartridges, McNorton pointed out. Instead, the olfactory bulb is stimulated by a mouthguard that receives magnetic signals from his latest piece of technology.
And then there's the oPhone, a "pipe-shaped device made for receiving scent messages" triggered by an iPhone app, which has been developed by scientists at Harvard, McNorton added.
"In the very near future, we will use devices like the oPhone to take a virtual tour of Marrakech, absorbing all the sounds, sights and smells of the souks and market square," McNorton said.
Digital smell transmission is one of several technologies tipped for glory in 2015 in Nesta top ten predictions for 2015, alongside smartphone tech for first aid and the onset of the Internet of Things in areas such as bin collection.
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