This Synesthesia Mask Mimics The Way Colors Smell

by Brianna Wiest

Holy technology, Batman — this one is really going to blow your mind (or should we say, nostrils?). The newest advancement in the tech world is here, and it's a synesthesia mask that simulates how colors smell. Built and designed by Zachary Howard, an aerospace engineer and art fellow, it's an entirely new way to perceive the world, one which merges your senses in a pretty extraordinary way.

For those left with raised eyebrows and many questions, let's review what "synesthesia" even is. Some people claim that they experience it naturally — that is, they say they were born with the ability to process sensory information using more than one sense at a time. Among those who say they have this gift are Kanye West and Charli XCX (the latter is not surprising, the former, a bit more so). The condition essentially allows them to see music, taste paintings or color-code numbers. It sounds a little trippy, but people like Kanye argue that they can "see" the sounds as they create them, which is what makes them great artists.

As for Zachary's gadget, however, he blends the senses of color and scent. When we mere mortals perceive a piece of information, we do so using just one of our five senses (we see it, we smell it, we taste it, etc.). However, this new gadget lets you smell colors by attaching a finger sensor that can detect color pigment to a mask that releases scent. As you walk around, you perceive the world based on how the color of it smells, not just whether or not a garbage bag is nearby. In Howard's device, grapefruit is the scent for red, tea tree is the scent for green, and lavender is the scent for blue (wait — why not purple?!).

And if you were wondering what would be the case for all the colors in-between... well, an interesting mix, it seems. The sensors can respond to basically anything on the color spectrum and create a unique scent representative of it. The mask could potentially be customized, and uh, if you were looking to build your own, instructions are available on (Weekend plans, anyone?)

Image: YouTube