It’s probably safe to say that you’re never going to meet anyone who will tell you “oh me? I love nothing more than a terrible smelling room. Nope, nice smells leave me miserable.” Being surrounded by nice scents is the appeal behind scented candles; it’s part of what makes eating in a restaurant, or wearing our favourite perfume so pleasant. Scent has the power to evoke images and bring our favourite memories to the front of our minds.
It’s this part of us that loves the air fresheners and scented candles that Cyrano, “the digital scent speaker”, is attempting to appeal to. From what we can tell Cyrano is the high tech version of a scented candle. This isn’t to be disparaging; the use of tech elevates Cyrano above the traditional candle in many ways, making it a much more appealing option. That said, the tech also has drawbacks that stop it being a definitive improvement.
Cyrano is a small battery-powered cylinder into which you place a cartridge with a palette of up to 12 distinct scents which include things like lavender, coconut, honeysuckle, pine, vanilla, and peppermint. The device is controlled remotely via an app called oNotes, which lets you select sequences of scents called ‘mood medleys’. These are called things like “Get Energy,” “Get Relaxed,” or “Get Free” and they’ve all been put together to have an effect on your mood by, for example, reminding you of things like being at the beach. You can also create your own scent sequences and match them with video or music to truly personalise and make the most of the device’s “mood modification” purposes.
Cyrano seems to be a device well-suited to small environments as its smells are not designed to be overpowering and their intensity can be adjusted in the app. Each scent in a mood medley only lasts a few minutes which the creators say is “long enough for the scent to be perceived by the user while short enough to avoid the olfactory fatigue associated with traditional scent technology, such as candles and air fresheners.”
There are a few interesting possibilities with the device outside of simply improving mood, though; with the production of more scents Cyrano could be integrated into VR experiences to add further immersion. The creators clearly see integration with entertainment as a possible avenue for the product as one of the things you can do on the app is play a scent film where scents released by Cyrano will correspond with the scenes. The main problem with this is that scent is a fairly subjective thing; not all smells are universally recognisable and they certainly don’t all evoke the same images. The smells also couldn’t be entirely authentic; it’s probably pretty safe to say that while most of us could identify a manufactured sweetened strawberry smell few of us could identify the authentic smell of the fruit.
Another area worth pursuing is perhaps advertising. We’ve always found perfume advertisements interesting in that they’re trying to sell a scent no one can actually smell; if perfume companies were to develop cartridges to the device it could be worth integrating into their poster campaigns.
In terms of personal use we can see Cyrano perhaps being helpful to writers, particularly fiction writers. Being able to put together a scent sequence that’s able to transport you more completely to a world you’re writing about could be an extremely useful way to kickstart and get lost in the writing process.
So the Cyrano stands above the traditional scented candle in that it provides more than one smell, it’s not overpowering and with the absence of an open flame you don’t have quite the same risk of burning your home to the ground. Where it trips up is in its cost: $149 (£102) then $19.99 (£13) to replace the scent cartridges which are estimated to last around a month at a time. And we thought Yankee candles were expensive. There’s also the small matter that you don’t have to charge a traditional candle using a USB.
Vapor have released Cyrano but this is to be a limited US-only production run in order to further develop the product and increase the scent library following consumer feedback. After this, we’re sure production will go further afield. You can find out more about the product on the website.
Image: Vapor Communications