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Olfactory User Interfaces - Judith Amores Dissertation

Sure, we know all about the possible types of user interfaces; there are visual interfaces, auditory interfaces, haptic interfaces... How about scent interfaces?

MIT Media Lab's Judith Amores, a PhD student and research assistant in the Fluid Interfaces group, has some ideas:

Human-computer interaction has traditionally focused on interfaces that provide explicit visual, auditory, or haptic feedback. This thesis proposes a new type of user interface that uses scent as an implicit, less conscious output that influences the person's cognition and pairs it with implicit physiological information as the input to the system. Unlike other modalities such as sound or light, olfactory stimuli presented during sleep are less likely to awaken the user, and, during the daytime they can be subtle enough not to distract the user from their primary activity. Therefore, scent offers a unique opportunity to create novel interfaces and applications that extend from wake to sleep states.

Judith Amores Dissertation on Olfactory User Interfaces

She's defending her thesis on Monday; best of luck!

Naturally, science fiction authors have been to this part of the intellectual world before. In his 1977 novel The Dosadi Experiment, Frank Herbert describes a unique alarm clock:

The odalarm awoke Jorj X. McKie with a whiff of lemon. For just an instant his mind played tricks on him. He thought he was on Tutalsee's gentle planetary ocean floating softly on his garlanded island.

Would you believe that there are already real-world applications for this idea?

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