How it works

Smell is processed in a deep, central part of the brain called the olfactory bulb. Scent receptors detect smell molecules and pass information to the brain. Since smell is embedded within the most basic functions of the brain, it can release strong emotions, activate memories and trigger cognitive processes.

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Smell and our emotions

Our sense of smell is one of the most powerful human senses and is an integral part of how we experience reality in our everyday lives.

 

At once, a scent can catch us off guard – taking us to the emotional landscape of obscure childhood memory, summoning intense emotions, or working with the unconscious as a subtle indicator of the changing of states.

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Smell to enhance wellbeing

Smell plays a vital role in our physical and mental wellbeing. Using scent combinations and sequences has been shown to help alleviate stress and stimulate the other senses, and be used in the management of medical conditions such as depression and neurodegenerative disease.

 

Additionally, smell training has been proven to help people recover from illnesses and improve overall wellbeing and independence.

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Smell to transform our everyday

Our research, experimentation and product testing has shown that our scent delivery systems can improve and enhance the most everyday of tasks. From the integration into driverless cars to cloud-storage systems responsive to individual users, our designs are malleable across a range of markets and product contexts.

 

We also work with a breadth of artists and designers to produce innovative VR experiences, collaborating to take audiences into the past and the future – furthering understanding on the climate crisis, healthcare and design.

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OW’s solutions supported by deep science

You can read more about the science behind the OW’s digital smell technology solutions and applications in our scientific publications:

The Incorporation of Olfactory Cues in Virtual Environments for Personalized Relaxation

SMELL SPACE

Mapping out the Olfactory Design Space for Novel Interactions.

CARoma Therapy

Pleasant Scents Promote Safer Driving Better Mood, and Improved Well-Being in Angry Drivers.

OWidgets

A Toolkit To Enable Smell-based Experience Design.

Smell-O-Message

Integration of Olfactory Notifications into a Messaging Application

OSpace

Towards a Systematic Exploration of Olfactory Interaction Spaces.

Special issue

Multisensory human–computer interaction.

The Study of Sense of Agency in Smell.

Communicating Cosmology

Communicating Cosmology with Multisensory Metaphorical Experiences.

“Like Popcorn”

Investigating Crossmodal Correspondences Between Scents, 3D Shapes and Emotions in Children.

S(C)ENTINEL

Monitoring automated vehicles with olfactory reliability displays.

I Smell Trouble

Using Multiple Scents To Convey Driving-Relevant Information.

Smelling the Space Around Us

Odor Pleasantness Shifts Visuospatial Attention in Humans.

Multisensory Experiences in HCI

Research into touch, taste, and smell at the Sussex Computer-Human Interaction Lab, University of Sussex.

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Rediscovering the forgotten sense