Selected Publications

Stereo-Smell via Electrical Trigeminal Stimulation

Jas Brooks, Shan-Yuan Teng, Jingxuan Wen, Romain Nith, Jun Nishida, Pedro Lopes, In Proc. CHI’21 (full paper. To appear.)

We propose a novel type of olfactory device that creates a stereo-smell experience, i.e., directional information about the location of an odor, by rendering the readings of external odor sensors as trigeminal sensations using electrical stimulation of the user’s nasal septum. The key is that the sensations from the trigeminal nerve, which arise from nerve-endings in the nose, are perceptually fused with those of the olfactory bulb (the brain region that senses smells). To realize this, we engineered a self-contained device that users wear across their nasal septum. Our device enables expressive trigeminal sensations and could function as an assistive device for people with anosmia, who are unable to smell.

Categories: Olfactory, Paper, Research

Virtual reality user experiencing the warmth of a desert or the chill of a mountain while using the thermal olfactory display.

Trigeminal-Based Temperature Illusions

Jas Brooks, Steven Nagels, Pedro Lopes, In Proc. CHI’20 (full paper) 🏆 CHI best paper award (top 1%)

We explore a temperature illusion that uses low-powered electronics and enables the miniaturization of simple warm and cool sensations. Our illusion relies on the properties of certain scents, such as the coolness of mint or hotness of peppers. These odors trigger not only the olfactory bulb, but also the nose’s trigeminal nerve, which has receptors that respond to both temperature and chemicals. To exploit this, we engineered a wearable device that emits up to three custom-made “thermal” scents directly to the user’s nose. Breathing in these scents causes the user to feel warmer or cooler.

CHI'20 paper | Video | GitHub Repo

Categories: Olfactory, Paper, Research, Virtual Reality

Curation

Twitch and Sniff Along Series

The “Twitch and Sniff Along” series spotlights video games that have incorporated scent as a modality. We’re presenting several historic games (and maybe new ones!) online and offer free mailed replicas of their scratch and sniff cards for educational purposes.

Categories: Curation

Scent in Cinema Series

Olfactory art, in particular scented cinema, has consistently been the brunt of dismissive humor. The “Scent in Cinema” series seeks to present works of scented cinema and provide critical discussions of this medium. The events include a virtual screening with mailed scratch and sniff cards followed by a moderated panel discussion with experts in the field. This event is meant to (1) increase enthusiasm about the study and creation of olfactory arts; (2) cultivate better sensory understanding of and critical engagement with smell; and (3) provide connections across several fields.

Categories: Curation

Artwork

A scientist lifts a melon with both hands. Two other scientists rest their hands on the melon. All three wear nitrile gloves.

Perfect Melon

Jas Brooks, Li Yao, Gabby Luu

Perfect Melon is a “community-building” marketing campaign from the fictional Perfect Melon beverage corporation, presented as an interactive installation. The corporation’s intention is not to simply sell a soft drink, but to cultivate a consumer community entirely mediated by the corporation. The marketing campaign involves a VR flavor experience, in which attendees enter a pavilion above an infinite melon field and are tasked with finding the “perfect” melon. In VR, attendees assess melon freshness and flavor by slapping them, listening to their sounds, and tasting their unique flavors. Once they select a melon, their choice is folded into the formula for the corporation’s commercial beverage: a mixture of all users’ chosen melons.

Categories: Artwork, Gustatory, Olfactory, Virtual Reality

Download my food

Download my food is a flavor project that features two components. The first is an offline installation featuring vegan jellies in a mini-fridge with a computer set on top of the fridge. In an attempt to use crowd-sourcing as a means of digitizing the flavor information, visitors must try a jelly, and - while tasting - are commanded to fill out a Google Form attempting to collect information on the jelly's flavor: taste, smell, texture, etc. In turn, their submissions are gathered into a dataset that is made publicly available online. Online visitors access a webpage with a single link that reads "download my food", which triggers upon clicking the download of both the recipe as an XML file and the current version of the dataset.

Categories: Artwork, Gustatory

A field of particles snaking their way through space, viewed at a distance.

Sanitary selves

Santiary selves is an olfactory VR installation celebrating and critiquing motion capture databases from the 2000s. Audience members are invited to engage with the project through immersive smell and sound as well as interact with the database in a virtual space. Sanitary selves seeks to question the sanitation and omission of markers of identity in the databases, asking whether purely abstract movements can exist when we are so steeped in culture.

Categories: Artwork, Olfactory, Virtual Reality

Close-up of the preserved flower bunches in the Pyrex dish; a soft woody, floral, powdery odor comes from the flowers.

Big time sensibility

The installation explores the perceived synthetic emotions derived from traditional, domestic flower preservation. Flowers were cut from their stem, preserved in paraffin wax, and randomly reattached with botanist's tape. A thick paraffin blanket affixes the stems to the Pyrex dish. The flowers waft soft floral, powdery, and woody notes from the addition of Dior Homme.

Categories: Artwork, Olfactory

Two exposures of a person spinning around in front of a unedited green screen. The lens's barrel frames the shot.

Simulathon

Marguerite, a young girl in high school, tapes her day at school as it tumbles into a progressively weirder world. Simulathon explores the notion of the simulacrum, particularly tackling the ambiguity and arbitrary nature of "humanity."

Categories: Artwork, Short Film

Education

Scratch and Sniff Book Open Database

This project aims to create a public database of scratch and sniff books. It’s meant to (1) provide information for researchers, authors, and parents interested in purchasing and analyzing existing books or producing their own work, as well as (2) take into consideration olfactory engagement for blind or visually impaired persons (BVIP) – much like tactile graphics, but for smell.

Categories: Education, Olfactory

Ele Edreva talks about fragrance wheels and two participants ask a question.

Community-Based Olfactory Research Group (CBORG)

Ele Edreva, Jas Brooks

CBORG is a collaborative roving research team working to make sensory education and research more widely accessible and politically/artistically valuable to our communities in Chicago. Resting upon the belief that smell is a skill and way of knowing that has been long devalued by systems of power, the group was co-started by researcher Eleonora Edreva and myself with the intention that everyone could use more practice learning through their noses.

Categories: Education, Gustatory, Olfactory

Preview slide of "Week 4: Immersion", featuring Valve's "The Lab", Char Davies's "Ephémère", "A Chair in the Room: Greenwater", and "Whisper Momoka".

ATS 4135: Virtual Reality

SAIC graduate-level studio course on Virtual Reality constructed to include a heavy-hand of theory focusing on interactive immersive media topics, in order to push it in the direction of a theory-in-practice structure. Through the course, students considered various artworks and projects realized in virtual reality, and how they inform public consciousness of spaces. Accompanying readings were but a sample of current endeavors meant to open up a common discourse on issues of immersion and human experience, such as metaphors of space, dynamic form in three dimensions, perception and representation, simulation, information, mapping, embodiment, and telepresence. (Syllabus and readings made publicly available.)

Categories: Education, Virtual Reality