ScentCheck: Making sense of scents

The Israeli startup is a pioneer when it comes to scent recognition technology. They discovered that, much like humans, viruses have a unique scent – ScentCheck detects the molecular pattern of Covid-19 with an accuracy of 85%. This makes it a valuable tool in fighting the spread of the virus at events, airports or other travel hubs – but first we had to come up with a user-friendly way of making this new technology widely available.

“Our partners at Edenspiekermann are making a decisive contribution to developing this service, which brings a bit of normalcy back to our everyday lives. The impact of their role as designers is enabling us to innovate quickly.”Oren Gavriely, CEO of NanoScent

First step: branding, positioning, and framing of scent recognition technology

Although our olfactory sense is one of our strongest and most intimate senses, it has played a non-existent role in our day-to-day digital lives – until now. NanoScent asked us to help them come up with an innovative way to read and digitize scents so that their technology could be used efficiently in industries such as healthcare, agriculture, and energy. One of the things that fascinated us from the start was how fast ScentCheck worked: within seconds, the technology delivered accurate results for infant health, bovine pregnancy, and air quality in factories.

“We love working with founders to bring their innovative ideas to life. And with Oren and his team at NanoScent, we are able to help design new iterations of their brand, product and service since three years already.”Christian Hanke, Edenspiekermann

We started our 3 year long relationship with NanoScent by defining the brand’s values and vision. Our collaborative approach helped us come up with a cohesive communication and design strategy that truly reflected our client’s identity. As the Israeli startup ventured into unknown territory with their technology, it also needed a new term for it. Just like Amazon Alexa and iOS Face ID come to mind when we think of cutting edge voice and face recognition, respectively, we wanted to establish a new category for NanoScent’s technology.

Coining the term “scent recognition” was the first step in defining this groundbreaking new digital category. The next step was ensuring that NanoScent’s UI/UX and website design matched the brand’s products, services, and vision. Naturally, we also needed to come up with a name for the device that allowed NanoScent to digitize scents: ScentCheck.

Adapting ScentCheck to Covid-19 and the “new normal”

The first version of ScentCheck was presented to the world at the CES conference in Las Vegas in 2018, and the technology had been used successfully in areas such as nutrition and personal health, when news of the novel Sars-CoV-2 virus started making headlines in January 2020. Within weeks, the virus started spreading across the globe and tests were often unreliable as it took up to two weeks for results to come back.

For NanoScent, it became apparent that there had to be a faster and more efficient way of testing the public – and so the startup reached out to us again. They tasked us with creating an innovative way of testing Covid-19 both safely and on a large scale – this time as partners.

In numerous workshops, prototyping, and user research sessions, we gathered data on how to create a user-friendly Covid-19 breath test, using ScentCheck’s pioneering technology. As NanoScent’s technology delivered almost instantaneous results, we also had to factor in individual reactions when the test result came back positive. Therefore, smart service design was crucial in the development process.

In practice, this meant that we had to find ways of delivering the news of a possible infection with Covid-19 in a way that is safe and transparent for the user, the person who conducts the test, and for bystanders. Because of our experience in MedTech and in digitizing airport security, we gathered data from interviews with security personnel and potential users, established pain points, and worked on solutions that would establish trust in the efficient handling of users who might carry the virus.

To get a result from the testing device, the user is asked to breathe into a small bag, which is then plugged into an electronic scent reader. Within 30 seconds, the sensor delivers a result to their smartphone. Should the test come out as positive, they will be asked to perform a second, more precise test.

As NanoScent still collects data to train the algorithm, we are improving the technology and design of the testing device on an ongoing basis. Due to the quick and inexpensive way of testing, ScentCheck is already in use in more than eight countries. In collaboration with NanoScents R&D teams, we aim to further increase the accuracy of the Covid-19 breath test in the coming months, hoping that ScentCheck can help us navigate the “new normal” safely.

Want to start a pilot in your company reach out to NanoScent and help detect Covid-19.