What’s Next for Messaging

For most people “140 character limit” immediately makes them think of Twitter limitations, but there was a time when it was also the limit for the only phone-to-phone text messaging system, SMS.

With the spread of smartphone devices, communication has gone from being about text, to photos and videos. All of that adds a bit of fun to our communication while helping us transmit our emotions and avoid misinterpretation. Some companies now hope to take this several steps further and potentially revolutionise our lives.


Today there is only a limited number of things you can send electronically: text, photos, sound or videos. In the near future, however, you may be able to add smells to that list.

Scentee is a smartphone accessory that allows people to send different scents to each other, transmitted through a replaceable cartridge that is plugged into the phone’s headphone jack. There are a limited number of available smells at the moment (strawberry, coffee, lavender, rose and rosemary) but you can sync Scentee with apps such as Facebook for likes, text messages or phone calls to trigger a special scent based on these actions.If it’s not the first time companies have tried to apply scents as the next step in messaging, previous attempts have failed, often because of their limitations and complexity. However, Scentee and similar apps could still be an interesting new medium to keep an eye on for individuals as well as brands.


Jeff Bonforte, head of Yahoo Mail, told The Times that he believed email and electronic communications are going to evolve in the coming years to use sensors that can better convey the sender’s emotion.

As an example, he mentioned how the wristband of a smartwatch could tighten to convey stress, or how a smartphone could get cold when receiving a message from a cold location. These might seem like unrealistic gimmicks, but transmitting emotions the right way is a major deal in communication as they are often misunderstood. Most of these sensors already exist in smartwatches. The Apple Watch, as an example, offers the possibility to send screen taps or even a heartbeat using haptic feedback variations through the watch, but being able to let your recipient feel what you feel would be a true revolution.


When asked about what he thought was the “ultimate communication technology”, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg replied that he believed that, someday in a not-so-far future, we would be able to use technology to send thoughts to one another.With bandwidth limitations significantly increasing, we already see videos becoming more popular than photos on messaging services. The next logical step, in his opinion, would be virtual reality and from there, a full sensory and emotional experience would not be that far away. It might seem very futuristic but if we consider how much technology has evolved in the past 10 to 20 years, the first steps of thought sharing could be closer than we think.

Scents, sensations, telepathy are all exciting trends. Some may be further away than others, but email and other messaging apps will evolve and become an even more important part of our daily lives. On another hand, it also means that security and privacy matters will become an even greater concern.





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