oPhone Update

Thank you! The alpha launch of oPhone is over! We are delighted to announce that, with over 10,000 oNotes created, shared, and experienced during our summer Indiegogo sprint, and far more global enthusiasm than we could have hoped for (we had over 80,000 views of our oPhone video alone), we are, now, getting ready for the beta launch. So, yes, thank you, from us all. Mobile scent messaging is extremely new. We would not be here, and absolutely would find less joy and meaning in the experience, if we did not smell the rose, or the coffee bean, or the seascape. Can it really enter global communications? In the beta phase (starts November 1), we promise you will begin to see how. Please follow the oNotes revolution at www.oNotes.com — and, meanwhile, enjoy this last glimpse of our alpha launch. This video, taken during a Saturday afternoon at the American Natural History Museum in July, will give so many of you, who have not yet experienced oPhone, a sense of the viral pleasure of it. And come to Café ArtScience (www.cafeartscience.com) from November to experience it yourself.

http://youtu.be/k4_z7bHRHb0

The oPhone Team

What’s Next for the oPhone?

As you all may know, July 31st marked the end of our Indiegogo campaign as David Edwards said the closing words on his interview with CNBC on July 30th and what’s next to come. 

Our alpha launch led to over 80,000 downloads of our campaign video and over 10,000 oNotes were made around the world via the first version of our scent messaging app, oSnap. One of our first oPhone HotSpots in New York City garnered thousands of visitors at the American Museum of Natural History. 

The unveiling of the oPhone during our Indiegogo campaign helped introduce a new form of global communication, leading to intense partnering interest in food, fragrance, health, travel, and other sectors. It also led to recent financing of the early stages of the company (over $2,000,000 raised in the last six months). We’re now preparing the beta launch, to coincide with the opening of Le Laboratoire Cambridge and Café ArtScience on October 30th in the USA. 

All pre-purchases on the Indiegogo campaign will be honored with commercial product delivery at the conclusion of the beta launch. We are thrilled by early reactions of the oPhone and excited by the beta technology soon to be shared.  We’re confident that the fun, learning and sensorial value of oNotes to global communications will grow apparent and scent messaging will transform how we communicate.

How Scent Affects Mood

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The Mood Factory states that scents have been used for centuries for pleasure and well-being. Ancient Egyptians kept aromatics used for medicine and perfume in beautiful bottles, which have been preserved in their tombs. The writings of ancient Greeks, Romans, Chinese and Hebrews all mention medicinal and aromatic scents. Many of the essences used thousands of years ago are still available today. 

Kathryn Goetzke, the entrepreneur and innovator behind Mood-lites (The Mood Factory), a product aimed at educating consumers on the sense of sight and how colors—and soon, how scents—impact mood. The Chief Mood Officer shares with us the important role scent plays in our mood for overall well-being. 

What is The Mood Factory? 

We make products based on how sensory experiences impact moods, with an overarching mission:  To Improve Moods.  Our first product line, Mood-lites, is based on how colors affect your mood and is sold in Lowes Home Improvement nationwide in the U.S. We have eight moods, including serenity, tranquility, creativity, sassy, happiness, energy, passion, and renewal.

Research suggests the more senses you engage to create the desired mood state, the more present you are and the more positive your experience in life. It’s both an art and a science. Now The Mood Factory is moving onto the next sensory experience, which is teaching people about scents and mood and how scents impact your mood through engaging the sense of smell. We’re launching a new product line of essential oil blends in our eight moods, and infusing them into 100% USDA organic certified scent sticks, body butters, bath crystals, deodorants, massage oils, and candles.

Can you tell me how you became interested in “moods”? 

I’ve always been fascinated with moods and used to look outside myself to change my moods through various addictions and negative behaviors. Through a Psychology undergraduate and International Business degree, I came to understand that our environment and the products we use impact our moods, and started researching what those might be.  My first foray was into color, as I noticed articles popping up about how colors impacted your moods and noticed as I added them through what I wore or how I decorated, it impacted me so the more I researched, the more I learned and wanted to share with others.

I’ve also experienced major depressive disorder, so at times found it harder than most to be engaged and present due to the chemical imbalances in my brain.  While at times I have had to use antidepressants to manage my depression, my goal was to learn how to be present and engaged through whatever life was bringing me.  So I worked extra hard to find out  what we can do to impact and influence our moods. 

My father was a successful retail banker, and so I was brought up around new products and we frequented Bentonville, Arkansas and I was lucky enough to learn from the best in the retail business, Sam Walton.  I later lost my father to suicide, so committed myself to create a shift in the mass market on how we educate and enlighten consumers on overall well-being.  I wanted to create a company and product line that didn’t just add revenues, but actually changed peoples lives.

Can you explain how scents affect mood?

The olfactory system is comprised of neurons called olfactory sensors, which recognize odor molecules and then send signals to the olfactory bulb, located above the eyes.  Signals from different sensors are targeted to different spots that form a sensory map.  From there the signals reach the olfactory area of the cortex, the area of conscious thought.

In addition, the information travels to the limbic system, which is the primitive part of the brain that include areas that control emotions, memory and behavior.  Memories of smells are stored in the hippocampus, and through relational memory certain smells trigger certain memories. Scent is the only one of our five senses that actually has a direct path from the nose to the limbic system, without going through a rational processing, so it has an incredible influence on our feelings.  Researchers continue to use brain-mapping to determine how the olfactory system works. 

Because olfactory information goes to both the primitive and complex parts of the brain it affects our actions in more ways than we think.  The connections between odors and emotions have an obvious survival value for our species.  The smell of good food is appealing, while the smell of rotten food is not.  We recognize either the “yecchh” or the attraction of smells, without cognitive awareness of the actual source of the aroma.  Aromachologists use these emotional ties, as well as scientific studies to substantiate hypothetical effects of scents, when formulating aromas to foster moods. 

Can you give me an example of how we can use scent to better our mood? 

If you want a pick-up before or during a meeting, you can take a whiff of peppermint or orange.  If you are feeling stressed or anxious and are looking for more tranquility, you can take a long inhale through the nose of lavender or chamomile.  We have eight moods we are targeting, and they are going to be available as scent sticks, so you can dab them on or wear them as you go as well. For instance, our happiness blend has lemon, mandarin, grapefruit, and lime. Very uplifting and energizing, and research suggests [these scents] promote feelings of happiness.

The connection between scent and mood in endemic to our species, but we are just beginning to scratch the surface of the intricacies behind this relationship, and also how we can use this interrelationship to improve our quality of life.

I am most excited about your new oPhone application, as with 1.75 billion smart phone users, getting access to scent via the phone is an easy and efficient way for consumers to access smell on the go.  Additionally, they can pair it with a photo to have an even more intense experience all from the ease  of their device.  They can become smarter, more engaged consumers, which ultimately leads to a much happier planet.

 

Sense of Smell & How it Creates Flavor

The sense of smell plays a huge role in what we choose to eat. We’re not mindful of the patterns the brain conceptualizes when it comes to our perception of flavor. Gordon Shepherd, professor of neurobiology at Yale University and writer of Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor & Why it Matters explains the mechanics of smell and why we crave the foods we eat and how the food industry has largely influenced our preference in flavor. What we eat is not just taste, but flavor due to smell and the retronasal effects.

What is Neurogastronomy?

Gastronomy is a pleasure we get from the food that we eat, then Neurogastronomy is how the brain actually creates those flavors. It’s the key to understanding why we eat what we do because how the brain makes the flavors and determines what we like. Why that matters is because food companies all know this. Food companies have their own scientist working away around the clock to understand as much as they can about why we like what we do. That leads them to analyzing how the brain creates the different flavors and how the brain creates our craving for those flavors. 

The idea behind Neurogastronomy is that we, the public, should understand as much as the companies do about why we like the foods that they make for us, so we can better understand how to make better choices, healthier choices of the foods that are going to good for us and avoid the ones that are bad. 

Why does the sense of smell matter so much in flavor? Can you explain this process?

Let’s compare first to taste, so you know there are five tastes; sweet, salt, sour, bitter, and umami, which is a kind of meat, savory taste. And that’s pretty much the same in the world around. Salt is salt, sweet is sweet but smells are quite different. Smells are something that we have hundreds of receptors for and each person has a different combination. Many of them are the same but a number of them are different, simply through genetic inheritance. The other thing is that smell is very open to learning, so whereas we don’t learn to like salt because we have to have salt for our health and we don’t learn to eat sweet. Humans through evolution have always looked for sweet fruit and vegetables because sweet and sugar carries energy. The sense of smell doesn’t have those kinds of inborn smell needs, so that means that they are very adaptable to different cultures and different families and different individuals. So we all grow up with our own world of the country we’re in, the family we’re in, the community we’re in, and our own individual flavors. Almost nobody has the same preference for flavors as anyone else and that’s mostly because of smells and the hundreds of receptors and because of the very complex patterns that they stimulate in the brain so that each of us have a pattern in our brains when we eat, even when we eat the same thing and that determines if we like it. 

Smell is not the smell that we’re conscious of when we’re sniffing in, the smell is the smell when we’re breathing out—we call that retronasal smell, going backwards. When you sit down for dinner tonight you’ll be totally unconscious of it. You’ll think it’s all coming from our mouth and all taste but in fact, much of the flavor is due to smell and when you’re breathing out, when you’re not conscious of it. Food producers are actually creating an illusion that they manipulate so they can hook you on their food.

The brain creates cravings as well. Using brain imaging, it’s been able to show parts of the brain that are activated when people are craving their favorite food. It’s the brain that creates, not only the sense, but also emotions. [Cravings] start before birth, what the mother eats is an immediate influence on what the infant is going to prefer in their first months of life and even longer. These effects start early and that to a large extent to the contribution of the sense of smell. 

Even if we all have unique receptors in our noses, is there still a common pattern in what we’re attracted to?

That’s a very good point and that’s what I was indicating, is that many of the patterns from the different smells will be very similar. So most humans like the smell of frying meat, for example, and this is where human evolution comes in. That reflects the fact that humans have been preferring meat as much as a million years in evolution. This then gets genetically built into us as well as culturally built into us. Different kinds of meat are attracted just as there are different kinds of sweet fruits that are usually attracted, so the patterns can overlap just as faces. Each of us can look at a face and if it’s a face making a fierce face at us, almost everyone would reject it. If it’s a smiling, beautiful face, then most of us would be attracted to it. I think it’s something similar with the patterns that are created in our brain by smells as well as taste. 

Can you explain your book, Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor & Why it Matters?

The brain creates flavor through the different senses that are activated that create what’s called, a multi-sensory image within our brains. This starts out reflecting the different senses that are activated but as the sensory information gets processed, it gets converted into something internal within the brain itself and it becomes a representation of what we call flavor which is a representation within the brain of the molecules in the forms it stimulates. Again, it’s like seeing different faces. It’s difficult to describe in words a face but we’re all good at identifying a face, someone we know or someone in our family. The reason it matters is because of what I indicated, food producers are constantly trying to persuade us the patterns and activities in our brains activated by lots of salt and lots of sugar, and something that we should eat more and more of. [For example,] in a can of Coca-Cola, it’s the sweet taste and the special flavor that coke puts in there that makes its very impossible to resist. 

Do you believe our flavor palate is not mature?

It’s food producers that are producing food that over stimulate us. Most traditional cooking involves a variety of things, some meat, some fish, some carbs, and vegetables. It’s a mix of things that has a combination of different flavors and different amounts of foods that fill us up. Usually, a traditional meal has a modest amount of calories in it and a modest amount of any particular thing like salt or sugar, but things that food producers and fast-food restaurants want us to eat have flavors much more intense and much more compressed into the food that they offer, like a Big Mac. Where then one serving of a Big Mac along with the soda and fries that go with it, you get an entire day’s vision of calories just from that one meal. This is why it matters to understand what the food producers and restaurants are trying to get us to eat and to be much more informed about it.

 

We cannot express the amount of gratitude in our hearts (or nose) to all the supporters the oPhone. Our #Indiegogo campaign is over but this is just the beginning of our journey in the next wave of communication. There’s a lot more to come, so stay tuned! Much love, Team #oPhone.

We cannot express the amount of gratitude in our hearts (or nose) to all the supporters the oPhone. Our #Indiegogo campaign is over but this is just the beginning of our journey in the next wave of communication. There’s a lot more to come, so stay tuned! Much love, Team #oPhone.