Scenting effects create connections, that much we know. They can successfully captivate the audience, create positive memory associations and even change the way we perceive an experience. In other words, “Our smell experiences shape our preferences.” The supporting neurological and cognitive research is overflowing. The design, however, is not black and white. Creating and defining positive associations is not perfectly formulaic, but rather contains a general mix of intuition, a knowledge of cognitive processes and insight into the human emotion spectrum. Of which, we specialize in.
With a level of end user enthusiasm that only match an early adopter market, everyone is asking about adding scenting effects. Adding the aroma is only one part of the process. System configurations, control options, number of aromas possible and the entire creative direction is just as important.
We’ve developed a guideline for design that we use ourselves for defining scenting effects.
1. Defining the creative direction.
One of the first questions that we ask is fairly simple: “What are you looking to do?” This is based on the all important foundation of, “Why?” Are we defining an ambiance? Are we adding a layer of sensory stimulation for heightened memory creation? Are we scent branding? Is this a regionally specific exhibit/event/production? Is this technology-specific i.e. are we re-creating a certain kind of jet fuel aroma, a specific “burning” smell, a certain biological smell, etc.
As well, how are the participants supposed to interact with the aroma? Is it intended to set a mood or draw out a reaction? Set up a scene or create a connection?
These preliminary questions are pivotal in defining the system selection, but more importantly, what will drive the success of the inclusion of a scenting effect.
2. Defining the setting. Are we inside or outside?
Inside: What is the air flow? How high are the ceilings? Are there any air flow hindrances, like partitions or seating arrangements?
Outside: How can the elements affect perception? Is it a wide open space or are there natural barriers to the elements? Can we establish barriers to essentially box in the aroma?
A natural next thought is the coverage area in which we want the aroma to be perceived. This is directly related to the size of space and interaction with participants. As each scenting system is optimized for creative context, the space requirements are very important.
3A. Aroma delivery.
A direct lead off from spacing is the way in which the aroma needs to be delivered. Much of this is driven by spacing and the intended interaction. Some systems are designed to deliver scent rapidly through ducting or direct into the environmentfor larger areas with an ambient scenting effect. In these contexts, the aroma is being delivered by a high intensity fan. Alternatively, some scenting effect systems deliver aromas using compressed air, providing a more intimate exchange and experience.
4. Total number of aromas expressed in a given day/production/experience.
Again, another extension of the creative direction and intention of the aroma is the total number of scents desired. Depending on the scenting system series chosen, you can express 1 – 6 aromas in a given day or production. However, the old adage of “more is less” applies to this consideration. Although humans have a rather desensitized olfactory system in relation to other animals, we are still sensitive to heightened levels of stimulation. Too many aromas expressed too closely together can muddy not only the the scents themselves, but the intended perception or creative intent. Like all of creative ventures, clarity is paramount to the end expression. And more often than not, clarity is cultivated by scarcity.
5. How do you need to operate the system? In other words, how do we need to control the aroma delivery.
SensoryCo scenting systems are designed for rapid special effect development. With this in mind, much of our design and manufacturing goes into systems that will easily integrate into an existing environment and control system without a lot of syncing or complicated programming needed. Control options vary from relay contact, DMX signals, or wireless remote triggering to pre-programming on the units themselves.
Scenting effects are changing the way we design environments and experiences. And they create connections, that much we know. But design and inclusion is just as much an art as any other special effects system.