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You preserve the visual memory of an event through a photograph and audio-video through a camcorder, but that’s only half the story. Plenty of research has shown how smells trigger memories and you must have experienced it too -- a particular odour from a kitchen that recalls a distinct childhood meal or the smell of the beach taking you back to those walks in the evening with your partner.

Design student Amy Radcliffe now wants to capture that part of the experience by creating a ‘camera for smells’. She calls it the Madeleine, after Proust’s involuntary memory theory . Talking to Fast.Co about her project, titled Scentography , Radcliffe explains that a smell “can trigger a response almost automatically, a little like deja vu, without us even thinking about it.”

The Madeleine is based on perfume technology invented by Swiss chemist Roman Kaiser in the 1970s to capture smells, which is still used today. “It works in much the same way as a 35mm camera,” Radcliffe says. “Just as the camera records the light information of a visual in order to create a replica The Madeleine records the chemical information of a smell.”

With Madeleine, a funnel has to be placed over the object whose smell you want to capture. A pump attached to the funnel sucks the air to an odour trap, with a unique ‘tube’ for each scent. Think of the ‘tube’ as your vintage camera film.

Radcliffe made a short video showing exactly how it works:

As you can see, the last part of the procedure needs you to send the tube to a lab for ‘processing’, much like how you would send film rolls to be developed.

“If an analogue, amateur-friendly system of odour capture and synthesis could be developed, we could see a profound change in the way we regard the use and effect of smells in our daily lives,” Radcliffe says. “From manipulating our emotional well-being through prescribed nostalgia, to the functional use of conditioned scent memory, our olfactory sense could take on a much more conscious role in the way we consume and record the world.”

Radcliffe is currently seeking work with fragrance labs to take the idea further, reports The Guardian .

Scent-ography | via Fast.Co