Smells and Whistles


OriginalIf you want a visual and aural play experience, you can find
it on the Internet, tablets and smart phones. 
If, however, you want a play experience that provides you an opportunity
to feel, taste and smell; well then you still have to stay in the physical
; at least for now.

That is why I urge those who sell physical play to make sure
that they provide a sensory experience that an end user cannot experience
I think it’s one of the
reasons that construction toys and play foods have done so well these last few
years.  You just can’t feel and taste on
an iPad.

But what about smell? 
That was what occurred to me as I read a New York Times editorial by
Lance Hosey entitled “Scent and the City.” 
The article argues that smell is an under-utilized design element and
that its exploitation could lead to new products that provide both the sensual
and the utilitarian.

Here are some of the functional values the editorial points to
that are found in the sense of smell:

  • Alzheimer’s patients achieve improved brain
    function when they smell  “…rosemary and
    lemon in the morning and lavender and orange in the evening.”
  • Smelling spiced apples case lowers blood
  • Massage a cancer patient with aromatic oils and
    you will relieve them of much of their anxiety and depression.”
  • If you want to relieve stress, sleep better or
    improve digestion, try smelling “basil, thyme, mint, lilac and lavender.”

Parents of sloppy children should note that: “According to a
2005 study by Dutch researchers, people tidy up more when there’s a hint of
citrus in the air.”  Where are those
citrus scented Lego blocks?

It would be interesting to see those in the physical play
industry (traditional toys, playground developers and theme parks) consider how
they can use “smells and whistles” to create calmer, tidier play spaces; all
with just a hint of a smell.

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