Nest Smart Scents by Louis Elwood-Leach is a speculative home automation product that explores the interaction between scent, memory, and environment. Connected to the internet and controlled through the Nest app, Smart Scents is a digital air freshener and aromatherapy device vaporises custom essential oil blends to recreate smells specified by the user.
Louis envisions Smart Scents as a device to enhance the home or work experience with controlled scent ambiance.
Although there are fragrance products designed to mask or eliminate odor, Louis' Smart Scents offers a wider range of choice and flexibility for those who wish to add fullness to their experiences with scent. "If someone wanted to be reminded of home, for example, they could type 'baked bread' into the app (or speak it to a voice AI such as Alexa), and Smart Scents would recreate the emotion of that time," he offers.
Louis references existing products and platforms in the work: "The Phillips Hue bulb can change the feeling of a room with warm or cool light. Smart Scents can change the smell of a room in a similar way—on demand." Unlike traditional aromatherapy essential oil diffusers, the wall-mounted Smart Scents distributes custom scent throughout the space evenly, and allows the user to switch scents with the push of a button.
This project was part of a course that encouraged students to fully brand an idea—no matter how frivolous—to see where it might go. "At first," Louis reflects, "I wasn't sure originally if this is a product is something that we should have. But by visualising Smart Scents within the brand language of Nest and the home automation device category, I feel like I transformed a 'fairly ridiculous' idea into a pretty believable product.” Louis can also envision the product in retail design. "Brands are really becoming very interested in scent as a design material, so perhaps this project might have commercial applications as well. Although, I'm not sure how I feel that!"