Do you ever wish you could escape everyday life sometimes?
Maybe you imagine yourself living somewhere exotic, like this beautiful beach pictured on the right here.
Perhaps you’ll download a gorgeous photo like this one and make it your wallpaper. Or maybe you’ll listen to some nature soundtracks just so you can listen to waves gently crashing on the shore.
But you’re probably missing the one sense that can truly transport you — your sense of smell.
Smells and scents are incredibly powerful emotional triggers. For example, you might smell sunblock during the wintertime and immediately think of the beach. Smells can be way more effective than any audio or visual cues.
This final missing piece of the puzzle is something one company, called Vapour Communications, wants to provide.
Vapour Communications, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, makes a small cylindrical device called Cyrano that holds scent cartridges. You control what scents Cyrano releases using a mobile app called oNotes.
The scents include guava, honeysuckle, lavender, lilac, citrus, ginger, vanilla, pine, peppermint, coconut, suntan lotion, and Venetian bellini (a sparkling Proseco and Peach cocktail).
You can also use the oNotes app to sync up your scents with some music. You can make playlists of different scents for the Cyrano to release, or you can use preset playlists to help you get into a specific mood, like being energised, relaxing, or escaping to an ideallic location.
The Cyrano and oNotes combination encourages you make a playlist of several scents because your sense of smell can get used to the scent in a matter of minutes. Switching the scents means your sense of smell will never get a chance to get saturated.
If you and a friend both have the Cyrano, you can even send that friend “scent-infused messages.”
You don’t need to use these innovative features. You can simply use the Cyrano in place of scented candles or other products you use to add scents, or even mask unpleasant ones, like you would with any other candle or air freshener.
There’s nothing quite like it
The science is simple. According to David Edwards of oNotes, “scents connects us more fully to our emotions and memories than any other sensation because only the nerve for scent goes straight to our brains.”
On a personal level, I’m inclined to believe him, as only scents that remind me of certain places or people have ever stopped me in my tracks and created an immediate, accurate picture of those places and memories in my mind.
For example, I could see a picture of a Christmas tree and think Christmas. But if I light the pine-scented candle next to me right now in May, memories of Christmas holidays will flow through my mind and I’ll feel like its Christmas.
The potential to smell virtual daffodils
Using smell to take you “someplace else” also comes at an interesting time in the tech world where virtual reality is just starting to take off. If devices like the Cyrano could be used in conjunction with virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, we might see vastly improved VR experiences, which, so far, solely rely on visual and audio cues to transport you.
Indeed, virtual reality headsets already do a great job of immersing you in some place you’re not, as your entire peripheral vision is taken up by the virtual environment. And, with a good pair of headphones, it makes the environment feel that much more realistic. But scent would complete that experience.
The oNotes app is free, but the Cyrano scent speaker costs $150 and the 12-pack scent cartridges cost $20. That high cost of the Cyrano scent speaker is a tall order, so it’s not for everyone. Yet, the idea is a good one, and we’ll surely see scent play a larger role to enhance our lives, and our tech, as it’s made more accessible.