Because scent is potentially the strongest memory imprinting sensory experience it seams logical that companies like oPhone would want to capture that experience for users to share either through messaging or on social media platforms. I applaud the oPhone team for their creation of the Duo which is kind of like a printer for scents that consumers can send to each other. Facilitating that kind of experience is a very difficult request with many obstacles along the way. The Duo is impressive if only because oPhone was ambitious enough to attempt to overcome these obstacles and offer a starting point in solving the problem.
However, it is difficult to overlook the reasons why this iteration of the product appears to fall short. I should preface my opinion by admitting that I have not yet physically used the oPhone Duo so please read the following with a grain of salt. From a distance, however, there appear to be three primary criticisms which could inhibit its success:
1. IT'S NOT MOBILE
Although the experience begins using the mobile app on your phone or tablet it ends with the recipient sniffing the aroma on their Duo at home or at an "oPhone hot spot" (which apparently exist currently in New York and Paris). The Duo is large and bulky meaning you're not free to enjoy the sensory experience on the go. Because messaging and social media are now highly mobile experiences there appears to be a disconnect between the desired use scenario and the product experience itself.
2. IT'S NOT ACCURATE
The oPhone Duo's iOS app, oSnap, combines a camera app with a scent formulation and tagging system which relies heavily on the user to pinpoint accurate aromatic references and input them into the mobile app to transmit the scent. It is not a scent "capturing" app because phones and tablets do not currently have aromatic sensors to help facilitate the technology. This dependency on user inputs leads to a high likelihood of user error.
3. IT'S IMPRACTICAL
Ease of use is the primary reasons apps like Instagram and SnapChat are such popular social media platforms right now. Capturing an image is easy and sharing that image is also easy. By contrast, the oPhone experience of tagging and formulating scents appears clumsy, time consuming and difficult all of which could quickly lead to user frustration and a less than satisfying experience. The process of capturing and sharing aromas needs to get faster and easier if oPhone hopes to market their technology to mainstream consumers.
Although I'm not convinced this iteration of the oPhone Duo is going to be a massive success I do think there is a market for it with the right tech enablers to help streamline the consumer experience. I am very excited to see how this market and technology evolve in the future!