Le Laboratoire, a Paris based design and art institute, think tank and research facility is spearheading an “old dream of a universal language” as David Edwards, director and innovator behind the institution, puts it. The project began in the spring of 2012 at Harvard, under Edward’s directive, to imagine how to build a virtual world based on smell. At the end of the semester, two students joined him back in Paris to collaborate.
The goal? A whole new kind of language that surpasses cultural, economic or generational voids. In affect, the ability to capture the world around you in terms of smell, and send that information to someone else. A true olfactory vocabulary.
According to a fairly recent psychology study, “Language provides a medium for describing the contents of our conscious experience. We use it to share our perceptual experiences, thoughts, and intentions with other individuals.”
But what else affects our perception? Surrounding us, every day, are flickers of sensory data that influence how we perceive our world. Innovators and champions of a heightened sensory awareness understand the incredible affect visual, audio and even taste can have on our perception. And now, scent.
Technologically speaking, the oPhone, still has some hurdles to overcome. Ideally, the scent device can pick up queues from the environment, interpret it, create some kind of data that is able to be transmitted over the internet and send it to a receiver, also equipped with a scenting device. In essence, you can then “print” out the scent to experience.
The ability to integrate an intimate scent experience, paired with music, art, or simply an additional component for language turns our ways of modern communication on it’s head.
The age of sensory awareness is upon us. With each step towards greater technological development, experiences are revolutionized, sensory data becomes tangible, and scent is transformed into a language, crossing barriers we never before have been able to overcome.