TECHNOLOGY SERVING OUR EMOTIONS AND OUR FIVE SENSES When technology interacts with our senses.
Ancré dans la tradition, en art ou philosophie, les sens continuent à être l’objet de recherches. Jan Brueghel, Hendrik Van Balen, L’ouïe, le toucher et le goût, v 1618 © Musée du Prado

The interaction between technology and creation is at the dawn of a new revolution. “Intellectual, imaginative, romantic, emotional. This is what gives sex its surprising textures, its subtle transformations, its aphrodisiac elements,” argues Anaïs Nin in Delta of Venus.

How much longer do we have to wait before an algorithm in seductive apparel exalts our five senses? Spike Jonze partially gave us an answer in his film Her, and Blade Runner 2049 brings desirable artificial intelligence to life.

In the meantime, today’s new technologies are able to speak to all our senses. All fields of application and research are working on imitating the human and its five senses. While hearing and sight are areas of research that scientists have been working on for decades, other senses are now being researched and new innovations are emerging. These include forks that can imitate salt on the taste buds to limit salt consumption, alarm clocks that now emit odors instead of that horrifying “bee-beep” sound, and haptic techniques.

Joaquin Phoenix joue Theodore un écrivain qui entretien une relation amoureuse avec une IA. Her Spike Jonze 2013 © Copyright Wild Bunch Distribution

The smell, a sense at the heart of research

Let’s focus on the sense of smell where all the attention is now focused. In the morning, to be in a good mood and start the day well, the way you wake up is crucial. But for many of us, we wake up with an aggressive sound: the alarm that rings a horrific bell. To find an alternative to this case, a young 20-year-old man, Guillaume Rolland, came up with the idea of a sensory alternative: an olfactory awakening. Finalist at the Google Science Fair, the prestigious technology competition, it seems like his start-up Bercent will have a bright future? At least, we hope for him that it’s so. While we will wait for the future to see how the Bescent adventure will evolve, Guillaume Rolland has launched a first generation of alarm clocks that do not ring alarm anymore and new products. His start-up Bescent raised €1.6M in 2019, enough to continue the adventure and sign new innovations.

The senses, a cultural dimension?

The smell associated with well-being is a very personal element. The French hot croissant is very different from Japanese miso. That’s why Bescent has developed capsules with a yuzu or cherry scent for those who would prefer to wake up with a smell of yuzu rather than a hot croissant. Bescent offers a wide range of fragrances to satisfy all kinds of audiences, including children. Indeed, our children have their own olfactory universe, too, which hasn’t slipped marketers’ attention . . . so this month, a Snow Queen version of the olfactory clock is being released. What would be the next step? Combining fragrances and sound melodies? Proof, if proof were still needed, that the business around the combination of “tech and emotions” has a future!

Sensorwake, une invention signée par Guillaume Roland qui change le réveil et joue avec notre odorat

These new inventions pave the way for (re) considering our senses. Digital applications, with the help of neuroscience, and some tools that imitate the reality, now becomes possible to play with our senses, to wake up in a good mood, to consume better, or even to touch differently thanks to haptic techniques . . . .

Thanks to the artists and engineers combined talents, new technologies are becoming a real resource in their own right, capable of rising to the rank of art. Rather than being in confrontation with our five senses, technology can help us to have heightened senses.

To further explore the importance of the senses and emotions, we offer you a short CreativeTech talk by Laure Kaltenbach.

Talk CreativeTech : La technologie au service de nos cinq sens et de nos émotions