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Olfacio: First Smell Recognition App for iPad

For better or for worse, developers have decided to give scent-based mobile games an honest shot. We've already had our noses on the buttery "Poptopia" iPhone game, and this time we followed the scent of "Olfacio," a free iPad app based on floral fragrances. We spent some time with the card-based app at Cartamundi's SxSW 2014 booth, scratching and sniffing in the name of virtual flower creation. 

"Olfacio," which is Latin for "smell," is an app based on creating your own flower inspired by the work of Belgian artist Peter De Cupere. To get started, you pick one of 10 scratch and sniff cards (available in a pack for 15 euros), including the mint-scented "Laurus Flores" and the more fruity "Rubus Idaeus." You then place your two flowers of choice inside Olfacio's on-screen "odor incubator," which will display an image of each plant after you've placed its respective card on your iPad's display. After the combination process, you'll be treated to a unique image based on the two flowers you chose to fuse.  

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With no special peripherals attached to the iPad we used, it actually seemed as if the tablet was smelling each card to figure out which type of flower it represented. Of course, your iPad doesn't actually have a nose, and the "smelling" comes from a unique touch-recognition pattern embedded onto each card. Still, the app has plenty of potential for entertaining younger users, since that technical component is very well-hidden. 

"Olfacio" is an extension of De Cupere's work, which consists of multi-sensory exhibits that pair images with an appropriate scent. Some of his recent exhibitions featured the smell of sweat and cigarette butts, so we were relieved to know that his iPad game focuses on the inviting fragrances of fine flowers.

"Olfacio" wasn't the only app at SxSW 2014 that utilized Cartamundi's interactive card technology. The card maker demoed a simple "Smurfs" application that allowed users to place virtual stickers on an iPad's screen by tapping that character's respective card onto the display. Also shown was a "Shrek"-themed scavenger hunt game, which used custom cards that allowed users to zoom into the environment and find hidden characters. 

If you want to get your hands (and nose) on "Olfacio," you can download the iPad app for free and order a card pack on the game's website. Long live scratch and sniff.