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Angel or Devil? - The role of scents in interaction and emotion design

Mei Kei Lai

The aim of this paper is to discuss the role of scents in interaction design. Scent-output is not an innovative idea in the digital world. From Sensorama (Heilig 1962) to iSmells (DigiScents 2000), people attempt to provide olfactory sensation to enhance user emotional experiences. However, most of them only caught the attention from the media at the beginning, but hardly lasted long in their era. Is it a dream or a gimmick? Do people enjoy having smells with computers? To what extend and in which context can computer-controlled scent output be designed properly? Problems arising from the nature of odour, olfactory technology, and context usages are discussed. Gameplay is used as the template to analysis the challenges and feasibility of using scents to elicit emotions in interactive media. This paper suggests that the problems above could be turned into the features of gameplay. An olfactory game is presented to illustrate the idea.


olfactory, interaction, gameplay