How might we exercise smell in communication, health and wellness?



This project started with about 30 informal user interviews to probe people's perception of digital media combined with smell. The result showed that people perceived media (emoji, photo or video) positively when mixed with smell.

To begin to question why smell influenced perception of media (emoji, photo or video), rough prototypes that combined smell and media were made. These devices were made to hold custom smells.

These devices may be magnetically snapped to photo frames (a form of media) as displayed above. Upon giving these devices to people to use, it was inferred that people felt that the memory in the photo felt more realistic and engaging due to presence of the related (place or thing) smell.

From this design experiment it seemed reasonable to suggest that smell could enhance people's visual perception or communication.

As a next step, to test the viability to remotely communicate using smell in today's digital world, prototypes were made that hoped to represent potential use-cases.

The above wearable prototype represents a speculative scenario in which smell may be used to notify us about the urgency or triviality of received digital media.

Apart from communication, can smell affect health and wellness? A series of prototypes were made to represent the potential of smell or other alternative therapies to treat serious health problems. Below prototype was desinged to be positioned in front of the user and dispense natural smells to treat health problems.

In this way, a range of product prototypes were devised throughout the semester to explore the role of our sense of smell in communication, emotion, and health and wellness.

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