Smartphones Reach Beyond Sight, Sound and Touch

Engaging all five – or maybe six – senses with new apps.

By on May 6, 2014

What’s your favorite way to wake up? Maybe it’s to the sound of the ocean or the ding of pots banging in the kitchen. Smartphone owners can personalize their mornings with apps like the Gentle Alarm Clock, which provides the MP3 or ringtone of your choice, be it soothing beach noises or a mellow rainstorm.

For many, a perfect wake-up call is not a sound, but a smell – and though it seems like something out of science fiction, Oscar Mayer has developed an app for the scent-sensitive. Wake Up and Smell the Bacon emits – you guessed it – the smell of bacon on a timed schedule. With the app, users can involve their senses in a whole new way with the help of their smartphone – and a small gadget that attaches to the phone’s headphone jack.

More apps and devices are expanding smartphones’ ability to engage all of the senses. A new accessory from Japan, Scentee, alerts users when they have a new message or when they need to wake up by releasing a specific scent. The Warmly app uses sounds associated with making breakfast to wake users up.

Some popular apps, such as the Embrace+ bracelet, allow users to leave their phone in their pockets while staying up-to-date on new messages or a low battery with a system of visual and tactile alerts.

Debatably, the most exciting engagement of the senses through smartphones is a new sense altogether – the digital sixth sense. Apps like Fitbit allow users to keep track of vitals they wouldn’t generally be able to sense, like heart rate. The AR Basketball Mug turns a mug into an interactive basketball net that users can shoot at with their phone.

Whether for entertainment, tracking vitals, or just the novelty of the experience, consumers are using smartphones to engage all the senses in a whole new way. In fact, there’s only one left to explore – maybe the next generation of apps will include a digital taste test.

Tags: wearable technology, alarm clock apps, wearable tech, fitness technology