When I am in a work slump, I try to kick-start my creative juices in different ways. I microwave a cup of coffee, put on music, and (this might surprise people) light a candle. Wait, you might think, Candles are supposed to have a calming effect, right? They aren’t supposed to spur your productive flow. For a long time, I believed that my correlation between productivity and scented candles was just a placebo effect. It turns out some research suggests that certain scents can increase alertness and work performance. How? The basic principles of aromatherapy say that smells can evoke positive emotions and memories associated with those emotions. That correlation can enhance the experience of various activities, from relaxing in a spa to typing this article.

The smart diffuser/speaker embodies the idea that your other senses, particularly smell and hearing, can be evoked to enhance whatever activity you are taking part in. What does the speaker do? It analyzes the music you’re playing and chooses a fragrance to complement the mood. By combining smell and sound, the smart speaker/diffuser creates a more immersive experience … even if that experience simply involves lying in bed or researching award-winning product designs.

We think of scent diffusers as relaxation products, but this design shows that aromatherapy has many more uses. My one gripe with the smart speaker/diffuser is its current marketing. Its description on Instagram fails to show off the versatility of this concept because it only names one available scent: lavender, which connotes relaxation. I would love to see what scents the speaker would choose for an upbeat song for the hours when I want to be productive. Overall, you can tell that I was impressed with a concept if my main critique was for the online presentation. I love this product because it also validates smell-motivated workers like me, who thought their candle-lighting routine made them an oddity.

Designer: Kim Minsu

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