Smell-O-Cell, or, A phone that does something superfluous? Weird!

Island Packet – If you’ve ever found yourself thinking, “Gee, my cell phone can make phone calls, text-message people, play the YouTube, make my ringtone that Usher song, access the Internet, bake poppy-seed muffins, serve as a Democratic superdelegate, transform into Megatron and deliver babies in comical emergency situations, but when will it finally get around to doing something useful?” boy, are you going to want to hug me after this. (Note: do not actually hug me, as I recoil instinctively from human contact.)

A company called NTT Communications, which is based in space, is working on technology that will allow cell- phone users to transmit fragrances to and from their cell phones, BlackBerrys, iPhones and other similar status symbols.

Think of what this means! Never again will you have to drive past a landfill and say, “If only I had the power to share this rewarding experience with my grandmother in Omaha!”

Never again will you have to wait until several hours after dinner to decide if what you just ate was spoiled!

Never again will you have to resort to describing the materials emerging from various regions on your newborn child in pathetically inadequate words and pictures!

Never again will you have to wait until someone’s in the room to pick up an item of displeasing nature, say “Eeeewewuwuhwuhwuhuwuhww, smell this!” and then thrust said item into the face of your unsuspecting victim. (Note: Does anyone actually do this? Smell the item in question? Because it seems like this is the social equivalent of passing a bleeding half-naked bearded man with a crossbow on a dark stretch of country road and thinking, “Gee, I should probably see if he needs a ride to the library.”)

How could this possibly work, you may be asking yourself as you feverishly start filling out the order form? Well, it turns out that 16 “base fragrances” are the key ingredients that can be mixed and matched to produce the approximate smell of, say, whatever your foot is currently stepping in. It’s sort of like how a printer mixes inks to produce colors, which is heartening, since printers never break or anything.

Users select a scent from what The Newspaper calls “a multitude of fragrance recipes” on their phone thing; the mixing instructions are then sent to the other user’s deal, which starts smelling like something pretty much right away, unless you’re at the corner of 278 and Buckwalter Parkway, which is like some signal-sucking cell-phone black hole for some reason.

But that’s not all. You also can use the technology to, say, send instructions to a Automaking Smell-Doing Machine Thing (actual name) at your home, so you could time your arrival at home to coincide with the soft, relaxing scent of woodland cinnamon, or wildflower vanilla, or burning oil tanker. You also can arrange an odoriferous “playlist” if you, say, wish to have lavender eventually drift into orange mango and then dissipate pleasantly into Amish fruit basket, which would be extremely important if you are a tremendously boring person.

OK, sure, perhaps the smell-cell idea has practical and positive applications; we’ve all been walking down a verdant garden path in the springtime and come across a lovely flower and thought, “I should transmit this olfactory goodness to someone who’s probably driving a car in busy traffic right now.” Maybe you’ve baked a pie you’re insanely proud of. Maybe you’re extremely, extremely selective about your Yankee Candles. Maybe you just want to record something and save it for later, like for when you’re sitting in a stultifying budget meeting on a Friday afternoon and decide that you need a quick hit of What It Smells Like Inside A Pier 1 Imports.

The company says this sort of technology has all sorts of practical, real-world uses, like enhancing advertising, which is good, since I think if we can agree on anything it’s that we could all really use some more advertising. But it also works on a personal level: if you’re sending a picture of roses, you also can “attach” the smell of the roses, to boost the experience. Or you could send real roses. Whatever.


About Jeff Vrabel

My writing has appeared in GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post, the official, Indianapolis Monthly, Billboard, Modern Bride and more. View all posts by Jeff Vrabel

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