Scent Futures by Future of Smell is …’an exploration of futuristic smell-centric concepts based on human needs and emerging technologies.’
Olivia Jezler is a someone who’s fascinated by our sense of smell, and explores it, fascinatingly, through research, events and on her website, Future of Smell. Her olfactory career has spanned fragrance innovation through new technology products and fine fragrance, at IFF, Symrise, Robertet, and she’s also been collaborating on various projects, for over a decade, with the brilliant perfumer, Christophe Laudamiel.
Olivia looks beyond mere trends in the fragrance world, thinking outside the perfume box and peering in to what role smell could hold in all our futures. And with this in mind, you are invited to join in what promises to be a brilliantly smell-centric online event – Scent Futures…
‘Tremendous shifts are occurring on global and local levels. Smell is a direct gateway to our emotions, memory and our sense of safety. Fast Forward. Now imagine a future world. How could this primal sense inspire innovations that support us and how could this also go eerily wrong?
This event is an exploration of futuristic smell-centric concepts for our immediate and distant future worlds. We will outline current projects, emerging technologies, speculations and potentials for scent and smell based technologies.
The aim of this event is to provide frameworks, visualise, question and inspire. When ideas are brought to life conversations around them can take place and more desirable products and experiences can be created. If there are infinite possibilities which one would you choose to create and how could it change our world?’
+ Intro to Speculative Design
+ Spaces (Personal, Public, Extraplanetary)
+ New Realities (Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality)
We’re always thrilled to attend the annual IFRA Fragrance Forum – a symposium of scent that delves deeper into current scientific research, bringing together experts from around the world who may never usually meet, but who all share the sense of smell as a common theme of their research. This year, the topic was Scent and Artificial Intelligence – how new technologies are changing the face of of the fragrance industry.
Lisa Hipgrave, Director of IFRA-UK, commented that, ‘We live in a fast-paced world and great strides are being made in new technologies that will affect us in all walks of life. The fragrance industry is no exception to this, which is why we’ve chosen to focus on the relationship between scent and artificial intelligence as this year’s Fragrance Forum theme.’
Spending all day at The Wellcome Collection in London, we listened in awe as the various experts gave back-to-back talks explaining their various areas of research and expertise, and the implications these could have for the future of the fragrance industry.
Starting the day was Dr Alex Wiltschko, Senior Research Scientist from Google Brain – a deep learning artificial intelligence research team at Google. He gained his PhD from Harvard Medical School, where he studied Olfactory Neuroscience, and now leads an olfaction-focused machine learning team at Google. He gave a great explanation of AI and ‘machine learning’, discussing how they can potentially impact fragrance chemistry, by predicting how certain complex molecules will smell (ways to make a rose smell even rosier, for example) by suggesting initial tweaks to formulas, which the perfumer can then perfect.
Professor Thomas Nowotny, Professor of Informatics and Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange from the University of Sussex, then explored what we can learn from the olfactory system of insects. Discussing the progress that’s being made in understanding how we smell (something that still hasn’t, incredibly, been proved), he posited the theory that we can detect odour sources in the same way we can hear the ‘chatter’ at a cocktail party, but naturally block out background noise to hone in on the person we’re having a conversation with. So vision and hearing have a lot more in common with smell that previously assumed.
Dr Josh Silverman, CEO of Aromyx, talked about the relationship between biotechnology and AI – in particular how new technologies are ‘solving sensory problems’. He explained how our noses have evolved to to detect vital information about whether a substance is pleasant, toxic, or anything in between, and that we actually smell in ‘something like 10-D’ – far more complex than sight or hearing levels! – and that although 70% of olfactory receptors are shared, a whopping 30% are completely unique to each person – so that’s why some of us adore certain scents (and tastes) and others find them awful!
Dr Dmitrijs Dmitrenko, from the Sussex Computer Human (SCHI) Laboratory at the University of Sussex expored scent and self-driving cars, and if it can make them safer, saying that ‘scent diffusers are becoming increasingly popular in modern cars, but their current function does not go beyond the sensory enjoyment.’ His study successfully proved drivers were far more responsive (and drove more safely) when certain smells were briefly puffed into the car to alert potential dangers. Lavender was puffed to tell drivers to slow down, peppermint to warn of being too close and lemon to warn the car was veering out of a lane.
Finally, Valérie Drobac, Digital Innovation Manager from Givaudan (one of the world’s largest fragrance creation houses), talked about their latest intuitive and interactive system, ‘Carto’ – a new system that reinvents the way perfumers create fragrance. Launched in April of this year, ‘Carto is an AI-powered tool that brings science and technology together, to the benefit of perfumers who create Givaudan’s fragrances. The new system is designed to intelligently use Givaudan’s unique ingredients ‘Odour Value Map’ to maximise the olfactive performance in the final fragrance.’ Using the recent Etat Libre d’Orange fragrance She Was An Anomaly as an example, she explained how perfumer Daniela Andrier had been suggested to initial formulas to use, which she then worked on, evaluated and perfected.
So should we be afraid that robots are going to take over from perfumers? Short answer: no.
Wiltschko commented that he ‘couldn’t see how a fragrance could be made without a perfumer’ – because at every stage of these AI innovations, a human is required to design, make and teach them to even perform basic tasks. Where these future technologies will help is in preventing wasted energy – data centres currently consume 3% of all the world’s energy, and that will only increase if systems aren’t put in place to maximise efficency and promote eco-friendly, sustainable ways of working. The AI will be used behind the scenes to free up the perfumers to be even more creative.
And what’s more, as Drobac reminded us – ‘perfumers have already used machines in their daily creative work, for many years…’ to mix initial formulas, for reasons of exact precision. Several of the speakers used the analogy of photography – think about how, when cameras were first invented, people declared this to be the death of Art. Or how, when sound was first introduced to films, or the advent of television, people dismissed them as a petty irrelevance.
The most excting thing we took away from the day of talks was the fact that our sense of smell, and fragrance itself, is finally being taken seriously by the scientific world. And as the Communications Director of IFRA, David O’Leary, said in closing the day: ‘AI is the second Industrial Revolution…’ so we need to take it very seriously.
In the just-published latest edition of The Scented Letter Magazine, we focus on The Future of Fragrance – a fascinating topic encompassing ingredient trends, design, technology and those people whose jobs bascially involve looking in to a crystal ball and working out what we’ll be wanting to smell like in the coming years.
One of the fragrance experts companies we’re regularly in touch with is CPL Aromas – a world-leading fragrance house whose focus is on innovation and creativity, forging the way fragrances smell with exclusive ingredients and fragrant design that eventually shapes what scents we choose to spray on our skin. In the Novel Ingredients feature, we explain several of their fascinating new notes – heading to your nose any day now! – but we’re also thrilled to share with you, here, the future predictions and insight of CPL UK’s Group Marketing Executive, Fomina Louis…
”Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will.” Patrick Suskind in his 1985 novel, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. Our digital world is soaked with moving pictures, words and sound. But scent, one of our most powerful senses from an emotional perspective, is often neglected by our online media. Whilst digital imagery uses just red, green and blue to create every other visible colour, it is considered far more complex to recreate a smell, since it doesn’t have the equivalent of “primary cartridges”. However, scent technology is making headway as the sense of smell seems to answer many of the demands of our present culture.
Today we value sharing our personal experience with others around us, to claim our uniqueness. Often the consumer is presented with the possibility of ‘engineering’ individual moods for particular occasions or times of the day, in a similar way that a playlist would or making your own cup of coffee.
The answer to this in scent is a device made by the brand Cyrano. It is a scent speaker which uses a range of scent capsules to emit “playlists” of smells. Cyrano also allows users to create a mood melody and then send the combo to a friend through their app. The scent is paired with a video on the app so they travel through each scene: kind of like a scent-o-gram.
NOTA NOTA is another new concept of mixing perfume, a concept by which perfume becomes part of the user’s daily routine like coffee from a coffee machine, allowing the user to prepare and wear unique perfumes for every day, night, mood and event.
In terms of enhancing our experience, for theme park designers and filmmakers scent has long been another storytelling device, just like 3D or immersive audio. Amusement parks use scent projectors to evoke a sense that would otherwise be ignored. AR/VR developers are now investing in scent technologies. The advantage here is that to create a scent of “burning tyres” for a car racing video game, it’s not necessary to replicate every different note found in the odour of “burning tyres”, a heated rubber note along with smoky notes will be sufficient when the user sees a car racing in the VR headset at the same time the scent is released.
Over the last few decades, brands have used scent to give us something to associate them with, but also to make us feel at ease. We are always breathing; therefore, we are always smelling – but without us realising. The sense of smell is directly hardwired into our brain. We unconsciously use this information without awareness.
The brands doing it effectively are doing it without you realising. Take Nescafé, who have embedded the smell of ‘Nescafé coffee’ in their labels for decades, so you smell it off the shelf.
A similar tactic is also used by the London toyshop Hamleys, which pumps out the smell of piña colada during summer because it makes the parents linger longer. Smells can be distributed through a store as simply as with a fan, or via complete integration with an air-conditioning system. A lot of retail companies use this, and its purpose is to keep customers in the store, by creating this welcoming environment. And studies show that it works. It keeps people in the store longer, it helps people feel anchored in our personal space, making them feel comfortable with their shopping and in a lot of cases causing them to spend more money!
The Home & Nostalgia
Focusing on the sentimental values of individual customers is the new marketing mantra. Japanese device “Scentee Machina” is called the next generation smart room diffuser equipped with AI technology, allowing users to control the fragrance via smartphone. This diffuser can integrate with the users’ calendar to prepare the house when he or she comes home. The device has two parts; the top carries the fragrance oil and the base connects to the internet, meaning that the users can tailor the program and control it through their smartphones based on their personal preferences. And, as the world’s first olfactory alarm clock, SensorWake has the potential to revolutionise our morning experience by a smell of hot croissants or coffee rather than a loud beeping noise!
Recently at the creation site of IKEA, Sweden, Students from the Royal College of Art, London attended a 2-day workshop to find new ways to express scent in the different parts of the home. The group projected numerous ideas like framing memories by scent – using doorframes and window frames. “The swing of a door will create the smell” said the student “but it will also support the particular memory in the future when you remember entering the home”.
It’s clear that smell is always modulating our mood and experience and that product developers have ample technologies and techniques for leveraging the sense of smell. Some of those exist today, but even more exciting ones lay ahead!’
[This article first appeared in Forecast, the trend magazine published by CPL Aromas vol 16 / Autumn Winter 2018 2019.]
We’ve all heard of that ‘new car feeling’ – the uplifting smell of newness that comes with the first few days of purchasing a new vehicle, but how about that ‘new phone feeling’? London-based luxury fragrance designers,Design In Scent have teamed up withCarphone Warehouse to create a bespoke scent they say is ‘…designed to extend that “new phone feeling” far beyond the day you buy a new phone.’
The fragrance is called ‘Unboxed’ and will be made available at over 120 of Carphone Warehouse stores, as of October 3rd 2017. In addition, twenty five of their stores, including London’s Oxford Street and Manchester’s Trafford Centre, will be giving away the ‘Unboxed’ room fragrance atomisers to the first customers who purchase a new phone, while a further 100 stores around the country, including Bristol, Belfast and Edinburgh, will be giving out tester cards pre-sprayed with the scent – presumably hoping to cause something of a ‘buzz’. But what on earth does a ‘new phone feeling’ smell of…? Design In Scent say: ‘Unboxed takes those who encounter it on an extraordinary journey into much like how we feel when unwrapping a brand new phone. Opening with sharp and addictive industrial top notes, Unboxed’s luxurious heart notes of cedar wood and frankincense then come alive to kindle a feeling of exclusivity and sophistication. The deep musky base notes smooth out the industrial tones, creating a chic and elegant composition.’ Gemma Hopkins, co-founder of Deign In Scent, began her fragrance career by being obsessed with the revolutionary quirkiness of chef, Heston Blumenthal – known for creating scents to enhance the overall culinary experience – and along with business partner Meghan Fay, the aromacologists delight in ‘breaking all the scent rules.’ Masterminds behind scenting some of the UK’s most exclusive venues and events, their olfactory experiences have included The Arts Club, The Shard, Heathrow Airport, Battersea Power Station and working with cocktail maestros Bompas & Parr. And now… phones, Unboxed.
Fascinated ‘…by the power fragrance has to change an atmosphere, stir emotions and evoke memories,’ and describing their process of somehow evoking the sense of excitement a new phone can bring, Gemma explained that ‘Capturing the complexity of that new phone feeling was a very exciting brief. We played with a range of curious ingredients to get that perfect blend of phone materials, sleek design and packaging, metallic electricity and luxurious exclusivity. We hope it evokes excitement for all who have the opportunity to smell it.’
With the digital world scrabbling to find a way of harmonising the power of scent, various apps and devices have previously been launched, the major hang-up (badoom-tish) so far being the fact that scientists have not yet found a way to accurately digitise scent or the sense of smell. In the meantime, then, perhaps it’s best to marry the traditional way of creating a fragrance with using the technological innovations as inspirations. Design In Scent Unboxed launched at select Carphone Warehouse Stores on October 3rd 2017
Written by Suzy Nightingale
Possibly developed with players who yearn to be sprayers in mind, there’s no mistaking the sleek design and colouring that simply screams Ferrari – but this is no mere phone cover, it carries a secret integral compartment housing 25ml of scent to spray on the go…
While traditionally female orientated fragrances have all manner of accoutrements to play with when toting their scents; the men generally haven’t been catered for as generously. A selection of men’s travel sizes are now available – a trend we expect to see grow exponentially, as fragrance lovers of the world expect to be able to carry several with them wherever they go; but also for those of us who prefer trying a smaller size before committing to a full bottle.
Step forward Ferrari, combining technology and brand worship by offering the ability to ‘…refresh your scent every time you pick up the phone!’ Though we might urge caution if you happen to receive a lot of phone calls… Designed especially for the iPhone 6 and 6s, the phone case is available in classic Ferrari Red and Black, for both colour and fragrance choices.
Ferrari say: ‘These modern, elegant and intensely masculine scents are the perfect companions for innovation and performance – hallmarks of the brand for nearly a century. Ferrari Black is an aromatic fougere that features a fruity, citrus top note, a spicy floral heart and a warm, woody base. Ferrari Red is a wody citrus scent with a top note of bergamot and spearmint, a refreshing floral heart and a base of sandalwood and cedar.’
Those worried about the phone heating up their scent can rest easy, for the case has been designed not only to protect phones from impacts, but also to ensure the airtight seal prevents accidental spillages and keeps it safe from the phone’s battery.
While we await apps that can deliver a multitude of olfactory offerings at the touch of your fingertips – and scientists are, indeed, beavering away at such technologies – this might be a way of bridging the gap (or just saying sorry I couldn’t buy you a Ferrari?) for those who absolutely must be fragrant at all times…
Ferrari Black and Red fragrance iPhone cases with 25ml eau de toilette & 25ml refill, £30
Buy them at Boots
When the heat rises and armpits emerge from beneath layers of jumpers, coats and jackets, commuters hold their breath in anticpation of the inevitable olfactory onslaught. With the premise that our noses eventually become attuned to the scent of our own sweat, Nivea have developed a digitised nose for your phone – an app they say scans areas of men’s bodies particularly prone to funkiness (and we don’t mean dancing to James Brown).
Having analysed the area – based on a specially produced algorithm that previously evaluated the scent of 4,000 other males – the app warns concerned men of their potential whiff-factor, rating their particular smell from ‘it’s okay’, through ‘it’s time’ and the climactic klaxon of ‘it’s urgent’. Nivea’s NOSE has been created by Geoffrey Hantson – a Belgium-based chief creative officer behind the so-called “smellphone” technology. Having been beta-tested in Belgium, worldwide whiffing is soon to commence, with the app then to be launched simultaneously on AppStore and Google Play, and a consumer version hoped to be released shortly afterwards. Watch Nivea’s video below for an insight into how it all works…
Meanwhile, the rather appropriately named Nosang Myung – a UC Riverside professor who’s invented an electronic nose to be used for sniffing out potential dangers to human life – said although the technology is in its ‘most simplistic form’ it could possibly work through only having to detect levels of sweat. On his rather more intricate technology, which he hopes could detect hazards such as dangerous levels of gas in the air we breathe (or even bombs) Professor Myung commented, ‘we developed a nose. A smartphone has an eye, so we just have to put on the legs. So now, I call it an electronic sniffing dog. Places you don’t want to go, instead of sending a dog, you can send this robot.’
Could this digital form of smelling lead to perfumers being replaced by robots? Well, the Noses we know can rest easy for now, as the human olfactory system is so highly complex and nuanced that scientists are still beavering away to understand it fully, let alone reproduce it. Hanston remains optimistic about the future for digital technology in harmony with scent, however, telling Huffington Post that although Nivea to will have to sell the sensors separately – currently the sensory technology is embedded in hard covers for phones – he’s pretty sure the technology will eventually be integrated into the integral structure of an actual phone ‘within a couple of years’.
While parents may be rejoicing at the perfect present for their teenage sons, some might suggest that if one is dithering about whether or not to apply deodorant, perhaps top it up anyway, just to be on the safe side…?
Save your cart?
We save your email and cart so we can send you reminders - don't email me.
Join The Perfume Society mailing list and be the first to know about all things fragrant.
We take your privacy seriously. We will only use your details to keep you informed about The Perfume Society. We do not pass personal information to any other organisation. You can unsubscribe at any time.
By browsing our site or closing this message, you agree to store Cookies by us and third-party partners. Cookies enable certain functions on our site, let you access your account, place orders, allow us to analyse website traffic and usage, and personalise content. We also share certain information about your usage of our site with analytics partners. Find out more.