Nosewise – Smell based interaction

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scentVid from Marie Ehrndal on Vimeo.

Nosewise is a research project I am working on in collaboration between researchers Jonas Olofsson at Stockholm University, Simon Niedenthal from Malmö University, and audio engineer Peter Lundén working at Stockholm University. The purpose is to create a platform for smell training. What intrigues me about the project is the opportunity to form an understanding of how and if smell can be an active component of gameplay and interaction. Since smell was introduced in multimedia, it has mainly been used in an atmospheric and passive way.

Design process

Starting out, I have performed design research to construct an understanding of olfactory research in general. This has lead me to read everything from scientific articles about olfactory navigation experiments with rodents, playtesting smell based board games, looking at general game industry advice and some more artistic exploration of how smell can be visualized(which you can see in the renders above).

Design patterns

To mention a couple of design patterns I have seen emerging from this initial research and sketching process, I made a short list below:

– The visual design is greatly constrained. Graphics and representations need to be carefully thought through in all scenarios where the player is supposed to specify or match smells. Players are highly suggestible.

– Smells can crudely be categorized in relation to emotions, and could thus be suitable for communication purposes. It can also be worth looking into how different people associate smells to specific colors.

– The fun and replayability values do not need to co-exist with the data collection. Different modes can have different purposes, and just like in other classical psychological experiments, what the test subject thinks is the goal may not be the actual goal of the experiment.

– Smell interaction is slow, and this of course affects the pacing of the game. The mind has a sort of smell fatigue after some time, which suggests the gameplay loops need to be quite short.

These are a couple of the many patterns I have started to see this early in the research and design process. I am aiming to start prototyping this summer, so that we can actually test a couple of concepts and see what we find.

My role

– UX, play, and game design
– 3D modeling, basic animation and graphics creation
– Prototyping and development