This was my second project in my first year of HBO and I loved working on it. We had to pick a sense and use a sensor to help the sense get better. I wanted to pick a sense which I knew the least about, which was the smelling sense.
Do you know that some people can't smell? It's called Anosmia, I came across it when I was looking for information about the smelling sense.
You can have Anosmia from the moment you where born or your smelling sense can stop working when you're older.. During this project, we had to make something for a specific target group. Which made me think about the fact that I love certain smells and if I wouldn't be able to smell them anymore, I would feel so sad. This thought directed me to depression, what if I can make something to help people with anosmia not to get sad/depressed about losing their sense. Or at least help them cope with it.
Close to home
Depression is something that I'm fimiliar with, not because I felt it myself, but because my sister did. I've started my first year working on a robot and I got the feedback that I should think about my thought proces more, feel it more.
Which I did during this project. It all came together ones I knew who I was making it for. My sister, my sweet Ambie Bambie. Which gave me a really good feeling about being able to do it for others as well.
Now looking back on this project, I see how little I actually knew about sensors and how often I do use them without even knowing. Even a switch is a part of a sensor. Now that I'm a third-year student I know there are many sensors and you just have to keep looking which ones you can use for your own vision. Maybe even connect two together!
First some facts
There are at least 350.000 people with Anosmia in the Netherlands! So much right! But what happened?
Well, people can get Anosmia because of an infection, a disease; Parkinson or Alzheimer, a brain bleed or a tumor or a trauma, for example during a fall or blow at the back of the head (the smelling nerves can be stretched or torn).
Which causes you to not be able to smell anymore, which also causes you to not taste your food anymore.. you will enjoy your food less, which causes weight loss. Weight loss is something you also see often when someone is feeling depressed.
The Proust phenomenon
During the process of finding out what Anosmia is, I kept thinking; "I will always remember what something smelled like, especially my favorites." So I looked up if I could be able to fake smelling. The Proust phenomenon is smelling your memories or having memories by smelling. What if I can find a sensor that will help me know when someone is feeling depressed and then I can help them remember memories and they will think they can smell the smell with the memories? I know it seems like a long shot, but stay positive ! I did as well!
My little sister is called Amber, but her nickname is Ambie Bambie. She is so strong and lovely, I was so excited to put her in my project and make something amazing. So I asked her what one of her happiest moment was and her answer was baking with granny. Imagine not being able to smell what your baking.. It would be such a different experience.
So now I had a happy memory, someone who copes with depression and in my project also has Anosmie.
What kind of sensor could I use to measure when someone feels depressed? Well I found out about the EQ-Radio; EQ-Radio is a new technology that can infer a person’s emotions using wireless signals. It transmits an RF signal and analyzes its reflections off a person’s body to recognize his emotional state (happy, sad, etc.). Amazing right!
Now that we have the sensor, we can connect it to the person and help them visualize a memory. But how? I thought an oculus rift and headphones would make sure the person can really see and hear the memory, the best experience. But how will the person know when to put these devices on?
Connect the EQ- radio to text message, so for example; my sister isn't feeling well and the sensor measured it, which makes it send a text message to Amber that she has to put on the oculus rift and the headphones. She will experience baking with her granny again and it will make her be there, maybe even smell it. Trick the mind into thinking it can smell it and she will feel a lot better. Have a light moment.
It's all very conceptual, but I hope you can see my vision and my enthusiasm. I absolutely loved working on this project, even if I wasn't able to actually making it work, I might be in the future. Putting this project in my portfolio hopefully lets you see what triggers my brain as a designer.