Olfactory Wearables for Mobile Targeted Memory Reactivation

Amores Fernandez, J., Mehra, N., Rasch, B., & Maes, P. (2023). Olfactory Wearables for Mobile Targeted Memory Reactivation. In Proceedings of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Association for Computing Machinery.


This paper investigates how a smartphone-controlled olfactory wearable might improve memory recall. We conducted a within-subjects experiment with 32 participants using the device and without (control). In the experimental condition, bursts of odor were released during visuo-spatial memory navigation tasks, and replayed during sleep the following night in the subjects’ home. We found that compared to control, there was an improvement in memory performance when using the scent wearable in memory tasks that involved walking in a physical space. Furthermore, participants recalled more objects and translations when re-exposed to the same scent during the recall test, in addition to during sleep. These effects were statistically significant, and, in the object recall task, they also persisted for more than one week. This experiment demonstrates a potential practical application of olfactory interfaces that can interact with a user during wake as well as sleep to support memory.

Related Content