Patent published on November 7, 2023

Snapchat's New Patent Could Let You Send Smells Through Stickers

In an era where we are constantly plugged into our devices, there is one sensory experience that has been largely underutilized — smell. This gaping sensory void is addressed innovatively in Snap's recent patent titled, "Olfactory stickers for chat and AR-based messaging" (US11811964B1), that promises a fascinating leap forward in our digital communications.

The dilemma of being unable to share tangible sensory experiences in the virtual world has always been an inherent constraint in digital communications. Conversations become sterile and the joy of the experience becomes diluted. However, Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat, seems to be on the verge of bridging this gap with their trailblazing patent.

Instead of simply sending an image of your delicious pizza, imagine being able to attach the tantalizing aroma too! This patent introduces specially-modalized stickers, that when used in a chat, allow the recipient at the other end to experience certain scents. This is achieved by the recipient interacting with the sticker on their screen through a tap or rub, triggering the release of the associated smell.

The implications are far-reaching and intriguing. This immersive experience can not only enhance personal chats but could possibly revolutionize online marketing. In a world with this technology, brands can enable customers to smell their products — a perfume brand could release the scent of their newest fragrance, or a bakery could send out whiffs of their fresh pastries. Advertising could take a completely sensory-driven approach, resulting in an ultra-realistic shopping experience.

The Figures provided explain the functionality of this invention. For instance, FIG. 1 shows a smartphone equipped to transmit olfactory information. FIG. 2 and 3 show examples of interfaces displaying these olfactory stickers, while FIG. 4 provides an illustration of the process involved in sending and receiving an olfactory sticker.

This exciting advancement brings us one step closer to a fully sensory digital arena. However, one should remember that, like all patents, this too is an intellectual property claim of an idea and not an assurance of an upcoming product. There is no guarantee that this olfactory technology will hit the markets anytime soon or ever. But the delightful possibility of adding scents to our digital chats is surely a thrilling one.

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