Cambridge innovation merges science and fashion


As London Fashion Week draws to a close today, Cambridge entrepreneur and STEM Ambassador Dr Jenny Tillotson is keen to promote career opportunities which bring together science and fashion.

Jenny's research and business interests centre on the powerful connections between scent and emotion, and her groundbreaking work in the field of interactive fragrance technology features on the new Fashion & Textiles section of the Future Morph website, which highlights career opportunities in science and maths.

Jenny, who is a Senior Research Fellow at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design as well as Visiting Scholar at Cambridge University's Institute of Biotechnology (IoB), is Founder and Creative Director of IoB spinout CEROMA (Cambridge Electronic Aromas). Its mission is to commercialise consumer products which use innovative 'smell communication'.

With Professor Chris Lowe and Dr Colin Davidson at the IoB, Jenny has developed a novel technique of creating electronically controlled scent delivery. The technique - protected by a UK priority patent application - is based on small, low-cost, disposable scent cartridges infused with an aromatic oil or similar scent. These cartridges could be incorporated into a wide range of products, such as mobile telephones, games consoles, a scent clock and fashion accessories.

The technology enables the selective delivery of a combination of multiple scents and, importantly, the capability of switching off the scent delivery. A solid scent storage medium is used which is inherently compatible with use in electronic equipment.

One application (pictured here)  is ‘Life My Mind’, a technical hydration backpack prototype designed for ‘The North Face’ sports endurance running collection, supported by the growing field of ‘aromachology’ ( the study of scent and psychology).

The backpack was commissioned by VF Corp (USA) through the Textile Futures Research Centre at the University of the Arts London, to showcase the latest global textile innovations in the wellness domain.    The project was in collaboration with CEROMA Ltd, which provided the patented technology for the design. The essential oils were provided by Simple Essentials, a leading wellbeing consultancy who provided the aromachology support.

Scents such as peppermint oil have been found to increase mental performance and cognitive functioning. An aromachology study by NASA with Dr. Bryan Raudenbush (psychologist) and Alan Hirsch M.D (psychiatrist / neurologist), focusing on enhancing long-distance running, included rigorous sports performance tests that proved how inhaling peppermint while sprinting can increase speed. Two further scents included lavender to relax and sweet orange to energise or reduce anxiety. The oil was impregnated in a solid-polymer material which when heated, creates directional scent so that the user gets an immediate hit of aroma.

Jenny, who has been mentored by well-known Cambridge Network Director and early stage adviser Hugh Parnell,  also recently engaged in an AHRC funded  Knowledge Transfer Fellowship to explore opportunities resulting from her patented work on ‘eScent®’ in areas of interest to Philips Research. eScent is an example of a design-led wearable wireless technology: a user-worn controlled delivery device, capable of dispensing sensory effects in response to a stimulus (i.e. timer, biometric sensor or switch).

The aim of the fellowship was to advance ways of improving the quality of care in the wider community; to reduce stress and improve sleep, using fragrances in wearable technologies and product design, and demonstrate the effectiveness of prototypes that react to the physiological response of the wearer (e.g. to reflect mood).

"It was clearly demonstrated that there is a benefit in including scent delivery as part of 'emotional' products, with the work showing scientific evidence for links between scent, colour and emotional state in a number of examples," commented Dr Steffen Reymann, Senior Scientist, Philips Research.



For more information, please contact Jenny Tillotson.



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