Innovations That Matter

'Camera' captures smells, not sights

Work & Lifestyle

Amy Radcliffe's Madeleine analog odor camera enables anyone to capture their favorite smells and have them preserved in a perfume.

As Proust famously demonstrated with the madeleine cake whose taste and smell took him back to his childhood, fragrances have strong ties to memories. We’ve already seen the Scent of Departure range of perfumes take advantage of this idea by attempting to capture the smell of particular cities for tourists, and now UK designer Amy Radcliffe has developed the Madeleine analog odor camera, which enables anyone to capture their favorite smells and have them preserved in a perfume.

The device is the result of Radcliffe’s Scent-ography project, which aims provide the first steps towards a consumer-level system for easily creating scent ‘photographs’. The kit consists of a bell-shaped glass dome, which is connected to a small machine that uses headspace technology to capture the molecular makeup of whatever object is placed under the dome. When the machine is turned on, air surrounding the item – along with the particles that give it its fragrance – are sucked into it and absorbed by a polymer contained in a capsule. Once sufficient time passes for the scent to be captured – strong smelling object take less time – the capsule can be removed and sent away to a lab for analysis. The scent is then synthetically recreated and sent back to the consumer in the form of a replica perfume that can be made again at any time in the future. The video below shows the device in action:


The Madeleine is stylishly designed and easy for amateurs to work, although it’s still a fairly cumbersome piece of equipment compared to today’s digital cameras. Could we see this scent camera become as popular and convenient for capturing memories as the traditional photo camera?

Spotted by: Raymond Neo



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