Fireworks: A Full Sensory Experience

We all have memories tied to the 4th of July, and most of those memories include fireworks of some kind. In the early eighties, we moved to the United States and so began my happy memories of colorful and magical skies, loud bursts you can feel in your chest and the smell of black powder hanging in the night air.

Why do we love fireworks?

It thrills ALL the senses.

It is a curious anomaly that the pops and bangs of fireworks, so reminiscent of gunfire and turmoil, are part of the pull of the response to a fireworks display.  Although we wince, cringe, cry out at the detonations, they are essential to the experience, adding an edge of adrenalin to the spectacle.

Fireworks are a controlled danger.

As for the psychologists, they say that watching fireworks, a potentially risky behavior, releases the chemical dopamine in the brain. That’s the same pesky neurotransmitter that takes over and makes us go loopy when we fall in love. Its a feel good phenomena, and also links to our happy childhood memory of similar sensations. Fireworks: A Fiery Fascination.

Of course my dogs would say that their memories of fireworks can be summed up into two words; pure terror. I am sure if I didn’t know what was going on either, it would be a shock to all my senses.

How do Fireworks Work?

Fireworks: A Full Sensory Experience -How Fireworks Work

How Fireworks Work

The Future of Fireworks

Although a fireworks experience is already a multi-sensory experience, the sense of smell and taste are not as stimulated as those of sight, sound and touch. The world’s first multi-sensory fireworks display was in London in 2013, crowds were treated to clouds of apple, cherry and strawberry mist, peach snow, plus thousands of big bubbles filled with Seville orange-flavoured smoke and 40,000 grams of edible banana confetti.
Get a behind the scenes look at how Bombas & Parr created this magical event, here.

One of the lovely things about Fourth of July fireworks is that they take us back in time, to the days that communities would get together in town squares and spend the day and night socializing and watching the sparkling event. So the future could really be, keeping it just like it was.

Me, I am excited to go down to my local store and pick up a few boxes of sparklers and share them with my family tomorrow. As each rod bursts into mesmerizing, dripping sparkles, I will be transported away from the ordinary and come back just in time to watch the big show.

To keep the memories of this special night going all month long, click here to get your free July sparkler desktop calendar.

yellow sparkler

The oPhone: Scent-Based Mobile Messaging

One of my favorite Google April Fool’s jokes was Google Nose, they clearly spent quite a lot of time and thought on this as you can see in the introductory video below.

In our fast paced world that we  don’t have time to stop and smell the roses, well with Google Nose Beta the roses are just a click away.

Well, two years ago that was a joke, and today there is actually a product that helps you capture the scent you are smelling and send it to anyone in the world for them to experience as well.

The oPhone 

What is the oPhone?

The oPhone is a revolutionary device that, in combination with our free iPhone app “oSnap”, allows you to send and receive electronic aroma messages. Think of it as a kind of telephone for aromas. With the oPhone, you can now bring complex scent texting into your mobile messaging life, and share sensory experience with anyone, anywhere.

They did a great job explaining and showing us how it works in this video, wonderful visuals, content, and overall production.

The first oNote that was scent (get it?), was appropriately, that of Champagne.

Champagne is a sparkling wine produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France. Since we’re based in Paris, we thought this would be a great first oNote to share with you. Click on the image below to have a first visual experience of your oNote. Here’s a tip: if you pause the oNote while it’s playing, you’ll be able to see the names and descriptions of the aromas that were tagged.


You can create your own oNotes and send them to your friends using our iPhone app oSnap, available in the Apple App Store.

My vision for the future of this technology is that it becomes an add on when purchasing a computer, tablet or phone. Websites can automatically have a scent that the user can choose to smell or not. How wonderful would it be to be able to smell the spa you are booking online, or the cupcakes you are researching? Brands can also use scent to trigger purchases or persuade users to stay on their sites longer, like they currently do in the real world. You heard this idea here first, people! The possibilities are endless.

I am visiting Paris in the fall and will be visiting one of their HotSpots to experience this unique form of communication. Hopefully I will post an update here and tell you if it is all they say it is.

You can preorder your very own oPhone here.


Read more about the First Transatlantic “Scent Message” Sends Smell of Paris To New York

I Prefer the Smell of Blue to Pink

What?!? The scent of blue and pink, did I read that right? Yes, when faced with a scent I prefer cooler and fresher scents to sickly sweet confectionary or fruity ones. Does this mean that I actually smell the color blue, no, but I associate it with oceans and breezes and cool crisp and clean scents.

I am sure if you had to name a scent that you associate with the color blue or green or red it would be pretty simple. Shout out the first scent that pops into your mind.

These are sense associations.

These associations can be universal or cultural or regional. However, we as humans cross reference senses all the time even when we are not aware of it.

scent of blue sensory associations

So what does this mean, and what does it have to do with you and business brand?

Understanding the subconscious associations humans make, can help you create a more memorable brand.

By utilizing the neurological phenomenon of synesthesia, you can stimulate one sense with another and trigger those associations with multiple senses.Synesthesia happens with the stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway which then leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. The more senses that you can stimulate in one experience the more memorable that experiences can be.

So instead of sending out scented, fur covered, music-playing brochures, you can leverage sensory design to stimulate the senses with associations and cross references.

Smell is the sense that is most closely associated to memory,  it is the most primal of all the senses and therefore the most powerful.

Companies leverage scent, whether you are aware of it or not, to connect with customers, and chances are you have experienced at least one of these: 10 Weird Sensory Marketing Tricks Companies Use On Us

Singapore Airlines has used its scent called Stefan Florida Waters, on its hot towels and on its flight attendants. This way the plane smells fresh when you board, and the scent is spread every time an attendant walks past. According to the airline this enhances the travelers experience of a relaxed flight. After your holiday you will want to book with them again.

I would love to fly with Singapore Airlines, sounds like their fresh airy scent is just what I enjoy. If they pay attention to details like scent, I imagine that the full experience would be way above any other airline.

So I really prefer the scent of blue, what about you?