Does This Make Scents?
By Don Ferguson on Saturday, August 17, 2013
I’m not going to lie to you, when I first read about artist/designer/nutcase Omer Polak’s ‘S Sense’ project, it took me quite a while to understand a) the point and b) why its useful. That said, I’ve decided to steam ahead anyway and hopefully something will sound intelligent along the way, so here goes…
The idea behind ‘S Sense’ is an investigation into our perception of smell, a key component of which centres around the creation of appliances to assist the ‘anosmic’ population – individuals who can’t perceive odours due a lack-of, or severely reduced, olfaction.
Created in conjunction with the official sounding ‘Israeli Weizmann Institute of Science’ and commercial techno- stink peddlers ‘Scent2You’, each device diffuses pleasant and unpleasant aromas that are translated into familiar sounds and images on a screen. As a result this system of biofeedback helps anosmics experience a ‘sense of smell’ for themselves, using their functioning faculties to create and comprehend an ‘odour memories’ database.
So, alongside some odd and confusing selfies of Omer, the variety of diffusers have been created in a typically imaginative style and built into wearable objects like rings, buttonholes and what looks to be a rock-shaped Glade plug-in (not sure where you wear that one).
However reading more about the process and the theory behind it, an interesting concept arises from amongst the pretentious and smelly artwork – a concept that relates to the, as yet untapped, future of development of scent based consumer brand publicity.
In the past, aroma based promotion has worked to varying degrees of success, centering around iterations of the world famous ‘smell-o-vision’ or stunt based product sales; like the Dominoes’ DVD Pizza and Geordie Shore’s ‘Kebab Perfume’. However the concept of ‘S Sense’ offers an opportunity to turn things on its head.
An obvious early adopter is the perfume industry, who’s tediously abstract celeb endorsed advertising has the potential to be morphed into something with greater resonance among the consumer. If developed properly, the adoption of some of Omer’s techniques into the advertising and PR process offers the possibility to create a far more meaningful visualisation of the scents they are trying to sell, whether it is above the line advertising or straightforward PR.
Undoubtedly perfume is already big-business, but a few thousand focus-groups, amuch refined biofeedback loop and some creative thinking later, who knows – we might be in a position to want to discuss the very latest Chanel advertisement round the office water cooler.