March 13, 2014
From bacon to buttery popcorn, phones start to tap into smell
Kraft Foods’ Oscar Mayer has been scoring headlines this past week for its branded iPhone alarm app that emits the scent of sizzling bacon, thanks to a plug-in device that delivers the scent. (To receive the gizmo, bacon fans must enter to become one of 4,700 Official Bacon Beta Testers.) The humorous concept is a manifestation of one of our 10 Trends for 2013, Sensory Explosion, the idea that marketers will look for new ways to engage and delight the senses at a time when more of life is virtual and online.
In December, a similar promotion from microwave-popcorn brand Pop Secret involved a limited-edition kernel-shaped Pop Dongle, to be used with its Poptopia game app for the iPhone. Swiping the pat of butter that intermittently appears onscreen results in a whiff of buttery popcorn. With technology providing new ways to deliver smells, “Scent is being mined as a new focal point of interaction for companies looking to break through a cluttered communication environment,” Quartz reported in January.
Down the road, we may see hardware that incorporates scent-emitting capabilities. Vapor Communications has outlined plans for the oPhone, which would emit scents using a small cartridge termed the oChip, enabling the user to communicate by smell with friends whose phones have the same capability. And scents appear to emanate from specific points on the display of the Smelling Screen, a TV developed by Japanese researchers.
Image credit: OscarMayer