SMELL-FAX is a fast prototype which examines future uses of portable smell printers in textiles while reflecting about the consequences of continued air pollution in our habitats.

Could a surgical face mask, in addition to filtering air, become a device for the exchange of alternative olfactory realities? In many metropolitan areas, surgical masks are inevitable to protect against air pollution. Surgical masks are already blurring the boundaries between tool and fashion accessory.

Can we capture and store the specific smell of our favorite forest or loved one as a data signal? Can we reproduce precisely the same smell from this signal? Could we even share personal scents on a social network like Instagram or Facebook?

Failed Prototypes: Bergen, Norway 2017, Bucharest, Romania 2018, Maribor, Slovenia 2018

Occasion: GDA Summer Sessions in Tokyo 2018
Concept, Design and Construction: Annette Schmid and Veerle Pennock
Supervision: Thomas Castro, Femke Herregraven and Hendrik-Jan Grievink
Thanks to Ai Hasegawa for the final critique

Why is this a failed Prototype?
The success of this prototype depends on the invention of the small smell-printer. It has yet to be invented to print through smaller smell cartridges that fit into wearables. Even a sizeable exact smell-printer doesn’t exist. The main improvements on printers within this area basing on the use of fragrances and aromas out of the tin. For the concept of SMELL–FAX it is most relevant to extract and reproduce specific smells from locations our daily life takes place. As one particular unique scent consists of over 1000 components, the prototype skips a highly sensitive scent sensor, that can detect and convert a specific smell to a data signal which could be sent over the internet and therefore be reproduced by a connected smell-printer.

The form of the mask is hiding an important part of our communication, the face. In the future, this would be an essential design problem to rethink and even could lead to the question: Does a wearable smell-printer necessarily be a mask? Could it be a scarf or another textile next to our nose, which wouldn’t be as invasive?