There’s a revolution of the senses going on right now in technology and design. Human-centric lighting and daylighting principles are being used to help occupants better focus and relax throughout the day. Biophilic visuals and soundscapes are boosting the wellbeing of others in buildings across the globe. And smell? The power of scent has been researched and explored for decades by this point for its ability to create memorable moments and deliver truly immersive wellness experiences.
Smell is one of the most powerful senses we have. When an aroma is picked up by our olfactory bulb, the channel that the message takes to inform the brain runs through our amygdala and our hippocampus, the two parts of our brain responsible for memory and emotions respectively. It’s such a subtle and natural experience people often don’t realize it’s happening.
Retail stores have been using this for years in what’s known as scent marketing, and many might also remember the odd stumblings of Smell-O-Vision and AromaRama back in the 50s. However, the use of smell in wellness practices is perhaps as old as the concept of wellness itself.
The Importance of Scent in Creating an Immersive Wellness Experience
For thousands of years in ceremonies, rituals, meditation and yoga, incense has been used to relax and focus the mind. In Abhyanga, heated, scented body oil is used as part of a massage in the interest of improving sleep patterns, boosting wellbeing and alleviating anxiety. But it’s not as if they’re all using the same scents with every single practice.
Everyone has preferred scents, not just at individual levels, but at broader demographic levels as well, so it makes sense that different scents might be used in different scenarios. Men, for instance, have been found to be fond of cinnamon while women particularly enjoy lavender as a scent. Humans in general are predisposed to enjoy warm, sweet scents. Ever wonder why realtors insist on baking the cookies fresh in a home before they tour it?
Technology Catches Up to Ambition
What I’m trying to say is that Smell-O-Vision was just ahead of its time. It’s always been about transporting individuals to another time and space, no matter how limiting the circumstances have been. Forget suspending disbelief, it’s about obliterating disbelief in the face of reality. After all, it’s a lot easier to imagine oneself in a mountain spring when the predominant odor isn’t the smell of the space, they’re actually in.
These experiences don’t have to be relegated to just movie theaters, however. Virtual reality tools and immersive soundscapes have long been making an impact in the wellness space. Scent, as well, is now making the rounds in the form of one product known as Scentscape from the Australian technology firm Hypnos ViRtual, which is already seeing some significant attention from investors.
Combining mood-making or mood-appropriate scents and savvy AI that Hypnos is continuously refining, Scentscapes is a part of what the company is calling “bio-media.” The experience plays as a “scent track” akin to a cinematic musical score designed to trigger an endless array of olfactory sensations. From televisions to smart devices, any piece of technology now has the potential become a neuroscience-backed immersive device.
Bio-telepresence, virtual travel and even YouTube integration are standard features within the internet-based system, according to the company so people around the world will be able to retreat, relax and explore in ways that allow for all sorts of micro-vacations for the mind, all through the power of smell.
It seems that original dream of AromaRama is now very much a reality.
Comfort and Home Redefined
Picture one last time someone returning home from a long work trip to be greeted by the smell of home, not a combination of distinct smells packed into a fragrance solution called “home,” but their own personalized scent profile for their home space, enabled by scent technology. On the one hand, scent technology can provide a relaxing level of escapism, or it can be used to make a home more distinctly home, and integrators can be at the core of that experience.
If businesses can use the same methods to make customers recognize and feel welcome within a space, then integrators should want to do the same thing with the environments they work in. After all, the entire goal of designing a space with technology is to make people want to inhabit that space. From a home entertainment theater to personalized wellness zones, the use of scent-making technology in spaces is something that will always be a welcome addition simply because people are hardwired to want and enjoy something that smells good.
The technology is out there, it’s simply a matter of making sure its audience is aware of it.