“Olfactory” is a speculative scent-based memory collection and recollection system.

In the near-future, the air is toxic to humans but not to other fauna and flora. In this world, human breath is filtered of all impurities, including scent particles. A special device is solely dedicated to the collection of scents: the “Olfactory Suit”. The loss of previously ubiquitous scent also means a loss of associated memory. By storing scents using Memory Balloons, we can take our time to collect them, and share them with friends. 






Dunne and Raby


Harvard research


Neri Oxman


Capture the smells from the environment and smell them from the masks.

It shows the way how the gloves can collect the smells.


Schematics and Rationale

The goal was to imagine a system where air can be selectively sucked in from the glove. This means that a pump system is necessary to circulate the air to the mask for sampling purposes and the balloon for storage purposes. A helmet with AR capabilities reduces the need for a display on the arm and acts as a control center. 

The backpack would contain the pump. For illustrative purposes, we wanted the pump to show a pumping motion clearly. Peristaltic and centrifugal pumps are space-efficient, but the bellow pump shows the pumping motion more clearly. As such, early prototypes were focused on a linear actuator to drive the motion of the bellow.



There are illustrations of the designs of the olfactory, includes the glove design, mask design, and backpack design, etc.




For the gloves, I wanted to show how the scent would travel through the suit, so having connecting tubes demonstrates that. I thought of hollow rings that would allow air to pass through them and made a design in Tinkercad. I printed test rings for sizing purposes, then the final ones using white TPU.


Linear Actuator

The linear actuator consists of a servo operating in sweep mode, with a 3D printed rack and pinion. The code was derived from the Arduino Example library. The distance covered was small, but scaling the gear attached to the servo could help. 


We decided to 3D print TPU as it is flexible, and ready-made bellows were hard to come by. However, printing with TPU on a relatively low budget 3D printer proved to be time-consuming and prone to failure if the settings were not perfect. I spent about 3 days procuring, testing, and tweaking the settings, all to no avail. With transparent TPU, the prints were porous and thus incapable of acting as a functional pump. With white TPU, the top-mounted spool caused the feed to jam, ultimately resulting in a half printed bellow. The print times also run into over a day (!), and leaving the printer unattended was not recommended due to fire risks.

These challenges meant that a functional bellow could not be built in the time frame. Ultimately for the video, the pump was a prop that was manually operated and not functional.


To make the mask I cut thin transparency sheets into strips and stapled them, varying the angles of displacement. When satisfied with the form, I sought to strengthen and add some aesthetics to the mask. I measured the length and angle of each of the segments and made a 3D model in Tinkercad, printing the result in PLA.


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Product designer