A sense of smell for business.

It is not often considered but we actually communicate through the use of our 5 senses and we perceive through our 5 senses as well. One of the least considered is the sense of smell.

The pandemic has created a demand to recreate sensations involved in highlighting the senses and the audio-visual industry will not be exempt. Moreover, a more qualified audience, will continue to create fierce competition amongst key players specially platforms and even cinema screens between them.

Specially with the current situation, one of the tendencies that look to reappear are gimmicks to grab audience’s interest and doing so through being more appealing through the senses.

So how do we make content more attractive to the senses? Well even audio-visual content has been appealing to the taste buds with recognition as relevant as the Berlinale Culinary Award, awarding gastronomy related films to appeal the senses.


One of the least studied senses is smell and this also includes within the audio-visual industry but that may soon change. Frederik Duerinck is creating a scenting system called Scentronix, a mechanism through which an odour experience pretends to enhance our visual and entertainment experience, but how does this work’ … well, through a necklace linked through an app that is expected to be synchronised to specific scenes in a film that release certain odours. This is particularly interesting as smell is considered one of the most effective senses to trigger feelings in our mind. Who doesn’t link Christmas for instance to a specific smell? Cinnamon, Pine, even candy canes or eggnog? All this creates a warm fuzzy feeling within us that remind us the feeling of Christmas … but there are millions of smells that can trigger a million of feelings and it comes as no surprise that it is actually not the first time this has been attempted.

Earliest attempts trace back all the way back to the Ancient Greeks Theatre where sometimes doves’ wings were impregnated in fragranced oils to spread scents amongst the audience. More recent pursuits can be found in the 1960’s with Smell-o-vision which consisted in pipes attached to the chairs releasing the senses. The experimental film is a forgotten one from Elizabeth Taylor in ‘Scent of a Mystery’ a.k.a as ‘Holiday in Spain’ which was highly unsuccessful as the technology flopped another approached through Scratch and sniff cards was tried, nonetheless it was highly unsuccessful as well.

The problem for both methodologies was the same and that is the lack of understanding of how our capacity to detect the smell actually works. Smell is a rather complex sense that is one of the least researched. Smell does not work like colour with a Red, Blue, Yellow basis to create all the colours but rather of around 1000 different genes to create various odours where each smell presents their own components to create that sensation we perceive; for instance, think a sweaty wet cloth versus a batch of freshly baked cookies, both examples will trigger multiple receptors from our nose all the way to the brain.

The desire to replicate sights, sounds and touch will only intensify now after the pandemic to recreate experiences we can have as real as possible in the comfort of our own home.  After losing their smell and taste Covid-19 victims, have put into the spotlight the importance of these senses.

It is yet to be questioned whether people will plug electrodes in their noses. Even in normal conditions, normally people wouldn’t but with the pandemic very much still being a strain on most countries, there is still a long way to go. What is certain is that the audio-visual industry is changing and the pandemic has only highlighted and accelerated the changes to how we watch content, where we watch content and even what content we watch.


Escrito por: Mauricio Albin.


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