OLFACT :: Sensory Communication Through Olfactory Genius

Curated by Karen Campa, Corinna Hartinger, Fabien Florek, Katie Dobberstein

Slides documentation 

Olfact challenges sensory communication by exploring opportunities through human olfactory information, to bring a new dimension to social relationships. This project considers current limitations in human-to-human communication (voice and text). Olfact proposes self-manifestation in the form of human scent aiming to evolve human relationships, rituals and customs.

:: Design Considerations ::

In terms of design, the placement of the piece is important as it is intimate with the part of the body which it is servicing, the nose. A connection from nose to ear, is implicit, implying this is a communication device, drawing inspiration from devices which evolved from novel to habitual artifacts headphones. The design also establishes a nurturing relationship between the user and the piece, keeping in mind that these are living organisms we’ve designed with.

:: Social & Cultural Considerations ::

We have also considered gift-giving rituals and exchanges pertaining to wearables, particularly jewelry. There is an emotional context embedded in jewelry exchanges, which seemed opportune in the development and social integration of the device’s future.

:: Personal Level ::

On a personal level, self manifestation became a recurring theme. Much like the previous example, taking a piece of ourselves elevates the value of the piece, as it is an extension of ourselves in a literal and metaphoric form.


:: Biological Rationale ::

A population of bacteria, stored in the glass vial in an inactivated spore-form, will serve to recognise and recreate the components of a specific scent. Each bacterium possesses a single receptor for the one compound that it is able to produce. Upon exposure to the scent that the user wishes to preserve, the bacteria activate and then specific receptor-mediated recognition induces changes in the bacterium that will allow it to survive. The remaining bacteria are returned to a spore form, from which they can be activated to produce the preserved scent at will.