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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Scent-delivery devices as a digital healthcare tool for olfactory training: A pilot focus group study in Parkinson's disease patients
The Incorporation of Olfactory Cues in Virtual Environments for Personalized Relaxation
Pleasant Scents Promote Safer Driving Better Mood, and Improved Well-Being in Angry Drivers.
Investigating Crossmodal Correspondences Between Scents, 3D Shapes and Emotions in Children.
Research into touch, taste, and smell at the Sussex Computer-Human Interaction Lab, University of Sussex.
Rediscovering the forgotten sense