Taste and Smell Interface

Dr. Marianna Obrist (2016), who works at the University of Sussex is a research expert in interaction design. Her scholar work introduces newest progress of sensory design and she predicts the future opportunity in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) community. The article “Sensing the future of HCI, touch taste and smell user interface” was published in September 2016. This article illustrates opportunities in sensory study and its value of personal intelligence and design business. This passage is a reflection on Dr. Marianna Obrist's article.

Although our knowledge about the sensory system has grown during the last decades, it remainds challanging to understand the way we percieve informaiton and how they relate to each other. Touch, smell and taste are still under explorations.

What makes it so hard? Taste and smell systems are chemical senses because they rely on chemical transduction. People do not yet entirely know how to digitize these senses in a HCI context. Also, smell and taste have inter-subject variability of varying olfactory preferences over time and cross-sensory influences. Then, what is the value to complete "a mssion impossible"?

Neuroscientists find that no other sensory modality makes as direct and intense contact with the neural cells of emotion and memory, which may explain why smell-evoked memories are often emotionally potent. Let's say if a company brand its product with a smell of sunshine, everytime a customer encontours that smell will provoke the memory of the associated company brand. When we look around, examples are everywhere. For instance, the new car smell makes customer enjoy the buying and driving experience. They even ask for a "new car smell" while in car cleaning. When I showed my relfection to a professor, she shows great connections with this example. When she talked about how she likes a new car smell, there was a big smell on her face. When she talked about that she never got a right smell, she was upset right away. Those powerful insights have been existed for long time in design industry.

Another thing constantly missing in design is the consideration of interactions between senses. Interactions here mean impact in cross modality. For example, visual information influence food taste. Researchers have test the same falvor chips with diffrent shape. One is weaven, one is flat. Participants claim they were tasting two different flavors. There are research on interactions between senses for long time. Experience never go in seperate channels. No one see, smell and touch in seperate channels and give each one a score. It is just experience. What design is creating? Experience. It is not shape, smell and touch in seperate channels. It is about all together as an experience. It seems such a clear claim. And designers are design experience. If design lacks this knowledge and understandings of sensory systems, the results are constantly considered as "feel there is something wired" by users. They can not articulate what exaclty it is. And it will be a mistery leading to failure in market.

Michael Haverkamp (2014) in his book "Synesthetic deisgn" argued that design should fullfill its purpose with the respect of sensory interactions. He offered a general frame work on considerations of sensory design. The challenge of how to enhancing design into considerations of cross sensory impact is still unmet.


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