Are Scented Bubbles the Interface of the Future?

Advertising has long been focused on maximizing visibility and capturing eyeballs. As a result, brands seem to have left the task of engaging the other senses by the wayside. Last week we wrote an article on how 3D printing technology and tactile engagement could potentially reconfigure how brands and consumers communicate (read it here). This week, we’re exploring another future branding possibility that’ll tickle your olfactory nerves; SensaBubble.

Fresh out of Bristol University’s research department, SensaBubble is a revolutionary machine that dispenses “scent-filled” bubbles. Personally, that would be enough of a draw for me. However, what lends this technology its disruptive edge is the machine’s ability to “track” each dispensed bubble allowing text, images and colors to be projected onto them.

Dr. Sue Ann Seah, one of the project’s researchers claims that they “wanted to create an ambient floating display that provides information in a more subtle way.” While subtlety, innovation and a pleasing aesthetic are important facets of SensaBubble, what could really make it a potent branding device is the strong connection between our sense of smell, and our emotion and memories.

Branding is centered on forging an emotional connection with consumers and making sure they remember your product and message. Associating your brand with a smell could make both these goals more easily attainable, given that our olfactory nerves are situated near the brain’s amygdala (the neural zone connected to emotion and emotional memories) and hippocampus (which is associated with memory). Moreover, receiving information in the presence of a particular smell increases the “vividity and intensity” of the information when you encounter the smell again. To put it simply, there’s a pretty powerful reason why the smell of freshly baked brownies launches you back to that one moment in your childhood that you may not ordinarily recall.

Although there is currently only one SensaBubble machine in existence, the unique possibilities it offers brands and consumers means it may become more ubiquitous in the market in the near future. Here are a few things you could potentially do with SensaBubble tech:

1. SensaBubble Clock

“It would release bubbles correlating to the hour,” said Professor Sriram Subramanian, the project’s lead researcher. (Gizmag)

2. SensaBubble Reminders

It could release smells reminding you to its time to do something. For example, a bubble filled with the “new-car” leather fragrance could remind you to get your tire-pressure checked.

3. SensaBubble Math

“There could be a nice smell if you got answer right and pungent smell if you got it wrong. Like oranges or smelly socks,” said Dr. Seah. (FastCompany)

4. SensaBubble Contacts

Each contact could be assigned a corresponding smell. “You could have the smell of your mom’s cooking–like lasagna. Or bacon for your brother. Or your girlfriend’s perfume,” said Dr. Seah. (FastCompany)

5. SensaBubble Advertising

The food and fragrance industries could use it as a promotional device given their strong reliance on “smell” to pull in customers. However, the text/image/color projection capability could make the technology applicable to any industry.

Check it out here!

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