The Olfactory Medium

Smell in Human-Computer Interaction

The relevance of olfactory perception and the corresponding olfactory communica-tion changed, and attitudes of cultures towards smelling differed through the ages. Finally Enlightenment philosophers declared odour and the sense of smell as im-measurable, unimportant and therefore unusable for scientific purpose. In the last few years more and more artistic multimedia installations used odours, scented products were sold and the increasing application of aroma therapy indicate a changed attitude towards social odours. Emotionalizing scents are more and more used for influencing customers’ behaviour in sales rooms and scientists are cur-rently investigating the mystery of smell. The technological progress meanwhile allows for measuring and reproducing odours. Therefore odours are also becoming interesting for technical information transfer or communication, especially in Hu-man-Computer Interaction. Smell seems to be an unrecognised medium and a new channel in multi-media.


Berndadette Emsenhuber, Expertin für Olfactory HCI