Anosmia - Reinterpreting Smell

a project with Julie Yonehara


Watch the video here


In 2030 anosmia will be placed on the same level of need as those who are sight and hearing impaired.


Individuals must take a Accetylcystine test or smell test to determine the levels of impairment


3-  (j) Anosmia: is the inability to perceive odors or the lack of a functioning olfaction system, hyposmia is related and is the decreased ability to smell


4- (j) Anosmia is caused by various things: Cranial or brain trauma, sinus   problems, smoking, old age, and respiratory problems like infection


5- (j) The lack of a functioning olfaction system can severely decrease quality of life as well as safety of the individual.

Without the sense of smell one cannot define whether or not food is spoiled. The ability to distinguish various tastes are diminished, individuals with anosmia often lack a healthy appetite.

Anosmia suffers are also unable to detect human pheromones which are used for attracting a partner and decreases the strength of ones libido.

Ones perception of their surroundings is also limited, such as the perception harmful chemicals or smoke. Hygiene can also be an issue with anosmia.

6-    (j) Humans only have 350 functional olfactory receptors, our higher cognitive brain mechanisms allow us to discriminate thousands of odors.


Thus smell and memory go hand in hand. Individual memories and emotions are captured through smell and can differ from person to person. These smell memories encompass our other senses like touch, sight, and sound.


7- (j) Our question is: How do we reinterpret smell for those with anosmia and hyposmia by incorporating the other senses?


8-    (s) Our first persona is a teenager who has been unable to smell from birth. She does not understand the concept of smell, and is also does not want to appear different from her peers

9-    (s) Our first product is a device that the user would wear possibly as jewelry. The device contains a mechanical nose as well as a biometric sensor, and an ambient environmental scanner.


The device would scan in the surroundings (sounds, colors, events, temperature) in relation to various smells and biometric data (or how the body is reacting). The device records these events and plays back the “smell memory” through the transformable surface on the top. Thus a collage of various textures, colors, sound would be played back in relation to specific smell.


( start playing movie ) Both pleasure and pain could be evoked through the surface and sound of the device.


10-(s) Our second persona is an 70 year old female who has started to loose her sense of smell due to aging. Smell is important for her because of the various memories she has stored up throughout her life. Thus beginning to  loose her sense of smell has started to cause some depression.


11-(s)Through the time that the olfaction sense is lost, this user lives with a recording device or ambient environmental scanner which records smell associated to events, actions and biometric data. When the user ultimately looses her sense of smell, she can wear the device similar to that of persona 1.


12-(s) The last persona has been left with a poor sense of smell due to a viral infection. His quality of life is not as diminished as the first two personas, but he does still have a difficult time defining and differentiating odors


13-(s) His NHS coverage has allowed him to download an application to his mobile device which contains a mechanical nose. Various warnings will pop up and alarm if the user is in proximity to anything harmful such as gas, smoke, chemicals, rotten food, and will even send a warning for body odor.

14-(s) Through this we hope to recreate the personal language of smell for individuals suffering with anosmia