Social Wings

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I took part in a one week multidisciplinary workshop to create a narrative and physical intervention (e.g. jewellery, clothing, performative object, device) offering different responses to the senses of 'touch' and 'smell' within different speculative or future scenarios.

What we designed

A wearable diffuser that will turn you into a social butterfly. Feeling bored and fancy a chat? The social scent diffuser acts as a bonding system between strangers. In all public spaces, from train stations to libraries, your Social Wings will automatically release a scent when you connect with someone around you that shares common interest. Use your sense of smell to find a companion to chat with and feel you wearable vibrate as you get closer and closer. 


Brainstorming on on associations and ideas around touch and smell.




Building a narrative around our scenario, inspired by story telling techniques.





Sampling a lot of scents and considering the use of active and passive scent releasers.

Passive: (no energy needed to release smell)               Active:

Reed diffuser                                                                     Humidifiers/mist

Absorbent pads                                                                Candles and heat releasers

Ceramics                                                                            Fans/air pumps

Textiles and fabrics                                                           Cosmetics

Silica                                                                                   Atomisers

Our prototypes 


A glimpse into the making process                                                              



the final design











how it works 

Place the ​Social Wings of your choice on your hand or over your ear. Simply activate it using the switch to connect to your new chatting companion.

My role

Coming up with research probes such as tracking peoples' phone use and locking phones away in lockers. I conducted some of the user interviews and research into the social determinants of health which was used to analyse our target market. I also created one of the service structures for how our service might work.

Lessons learnt and reflections

Experimenting ​from early on the project was not only fun, but allowed us to learn through making. Map out your understanding of the service structure when you begin discussing it to avoid differing comprehensions of how it functions.

With special thanks to

Our tutor Nicolas Rebolledo-Bustamante, Royal College of Art

David Ulman & Bill Thompson, BBC

This project was created in collaboration with Irene Liao, Pinja Piipponen and Sujeban Susilkanthan.

Date: May 2019 - June 2019


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We programmed an Arduino to pump air connected to a mini fan every 10 seconds. The fan was attached to a rubber tube which circulated a scented airflow to a metal tube which was moulded and welded into shape with scent release holes carved in.

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We were inspired by the social nature of dogs when on a walk in Hyde Park and dogs' use of their sense of smell. We wanted to create a new normal for how humans interact with one another and give more power to our sense of smell and touch.

Due to the story of our narrative, we decided against these initial designs and selected designs that mimicked the motion or characteristics of a (social) butterfly. 

While this worked for some participants the novelty of it wore off after a while and people either forgot to use it or ignored the extra step of opening it.

Having to complete an activity to unlock your phone proved to be fun, however none of our participations faced an emergency scenario where they would need to unlock their phone immediately.

We ended up doing this as a team for the duration of the project. We found it forced us to consider when we needed breaks.