Monday, May 02, 2005

Olfactory System, Smell, and Emotions

Olfactory Process:

  1. The shape of an individual odor molecule is unique to the emitting substance
  2. When inhaled, the odor molecule is absorbed in the nasal passage and binds to chemoreceptors in the olfactory epithelium, which are specific to certain odor molecules
  3. This binding initiates a change in the permeability of the sensory neuron, which creates a slow electric potential that travels to the olfactory bulb
  4. From the olfactory bulb, the transmitted signal is sent to the limbic system of the brain for further processing.
  5. Recognition of the odor occurs in the limbic system when the signal is interpreted through a comparison to past experiences with the odor and relation of the smell to the emitting substance
  • "The olfactory system, which senses odors, is vital to our lives, and comprises one of the most primal parts of the brain. Just like our sense of hearing, sight, touch or taste, the sense of smell is a way for us to gather messages about the environment around us." Robin Reineke

  • The actual ability to smell is closely tied to memory and experience

The above statement validates using smell sensory indicators in our device. The idea of using olfactory cues and aromatic feedback is an ambient way to indicate incoming information. (See “Technology and Materials Research”) Just as a cell phone rings when someone is trying to reach you. The idea of choosing a ring-tone from a menu of pre-set ringers is how we will incorporate our scent palette. The palette will come with five pre-set smells, and the user will be able to choose one scent, like a ring-tone, to be their image indicator. We felt this is an intuitive and non-intrusive way to intimately connect two users through scents. For example, when someone wants to send you their information, the scent of pina-coloda is released to you, others may be able to smell it as well, but only you will “really” know why it smells like pina-coloda, which personalizes it to the user. Also, we want to give the user the opportunity to customize their scents by purchasing other scent palettes that can be swapped for the original. If the costumer does not like the default scents, they can purchase other scent options that appeal to them.

It's Right Under Our Noses


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2:00 PM  

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