In the ‘Fashion, Fragrance & the Future‘ edition of The Scented Letter magazine [sign up for the FREE online edition here] we explore the myriad ways that Artificial Intelligence is impacting the world of perfumery – from allowing the perfumers to come up with never before dreamed of compositions, building brand new aroma molecules (and predicting how they’ll smell), to more sustainable ways of growing, harvesting, distilling and creating scents, right down to the design and marketing of the perfumes.
As the AI market grows in leaps and bounds, seemingly daily, we wanted to elaborate on another exciting (and utterly fascinating) use of AI in perfumery: helping YOU choose your next new fragrance.
We’ve long been proponents of technology aiding customers in this often confusing starting point – decades ago, our Co-Founder Lorna McKay helped set up an in-store computer system to help customers of Liberty’s perfumery seek out their next scents; an idea WAY ahead of its time that (then) printed out suggestions, which The Perfume Society then massively added to and turned into our online Find a Fragrance helper.
Keen to sniff out the latest technology, some months ago, I was lucky enough to be invited by Scent Futurist and consultant, Olivia Jezler, to attend the first European demonstration of an AI system designed by Japan’s SCENTMATIC Corporation. Simply put, they explain:
“Finding a perfume is a challenge. Fragrances are hard to grasp, and expressing our preferences can be tough. KAORIUM by SCENTMATIC is an entirely novel approach to fragrance exploration that decodes the enigmatic world of scents and helps people discover new fragrances intuitively through language. Harnessing state-of-the-art technology, our mission is to deliver olfactory moments of delight.”
Already in-store in some Japanese niche perfumeries, the AI works interactively through a table display. The customer is guided through sniffing some scents based on how they are feeling (or want a fragrance to help them feel) by suggesting some initial scents to ‘blind sniff’ (smell without knowing the name, brand, or ingredients) and asking questions. Narrowing down the possibilities based on your answers then spotlights three scented suggestions from differing houses to seek out in-store – the range suggested being uniquely tailored to the brands each retailer stocks.
“KAORIUM is a unique, innovative AI system that digitises the sense of smell and enables customers to experience fragrances through a digital blind-smelling experience. With KAORIUM, customers can intuitively discover scents by relying on a guided AI-powered olfactory experience that culminates in a poetic reveal of their chosen scents.”
My prompt was: ‘River breeze carrying the sound of fireworks’
Fragrances KAORIUM suggested for me:
(Restful) The House of Oud, The Time
THOO say: ‘This composition is an invitation to practise introspection: the prelude is Bergamot in an accord with Camomile and the calm of Wormwood, whose warm, woody note shields and reassures. Blue Tea, Iris and Verbena are the throbs of a heart that does not mark the passing of time, but expands it to infinity, wrapping us in a dimension of care and respect. With the expressive force of Cedarwood, Musks and Amber, the base receives the precious, dynamising notes of Black Tea.’
From £33 for 7ml eau de parfum [Exclusive to Jovoy Mayfair in the U.K.]
(Tranquil) Laboratorio Olfattivo, Sacreste
‘A complex and rich formula, created to give voice to two precious incense notes which immediately tie with Cistus, Elemi and other spicy ingredients which appear on the top notes and on a woody musky base. A sensual and profound incense: a perfume with character.’
£108 for 100ml eau de parfum pulseofperfumery.com
(Lucid) Stora Skuggan, Silphium
‘Silphium (probably of the genus Ferula) was a plant that grew in the area of Cyrene, present day Libya, and was widely renowned as a spice, medicinal herb and perfume ingredient throughout the empires of the classical antiquity. It was praised by Greek philosophers and writers, as well as Roman emperors and cookbook authors.’
£120 for 30ml eau de parfum earlofeast.com
I already knew I adored The Time and Sacreste, so these were indeed excellent suggestions, and I’ve since sought-out and rather fallen for Silphium. Quite apart from this being a fun thing to do in-store (who doesn’t like getting things ‘matched’ to them in personality-based quizzes?) AI experiences such as KAORIUM can be a genuinely helpful starting point for both those newer to niche perfumery and overwhelmed by (or nervous to try) the huge selection of scents clamouring for our attention. This absolutely is not to suggest such devices should (or could) put the well-trained and enthusiastic fragrance experts in stores out of a job, rather that it works alongside them – just as the AI programmes perfumers use are an aid to their expertise rather than a replacement for their skills, and emotional understanding of what people are looking for.
KAORIUM say: “…its capabilities are not just for the discovery experience but also for data analysis that can be used for insights and product development.”
So, companies might be able to track what customers are selecting based on their moods, allowing the database to evolve and grow based on realtime experiences. That way, it can learn ever more nuanced suggestions that best meet the needs of actual customers visiting perfumeries and not knowing where to begin: a win-win for everyone!
Want to learn even more about AI and perfumery?
- Buy the stunning print edition of The Scented Letter: Fashion, Fragrance & the Future
- Follow the brilliant and always innovative Olivia Jezler @futureofsmell
- Read about Givaudan’s AI predicting emotional responses to smells
- Discover how Moodify (Re)Formulation is making sure new versions of classic scents smell the same
- Create a ‘scent with Algorithmic Perfumery’ via everyhuman.com
Written by Suzy Nightingale