This in-car odor neutralizer uses neuroscience to tackle bad smells

·1-min read
The Odor Free device could take the form of a diffuser attached to the central air vent.

The automotive supplier Valeo has introduced Odor Free, the first neuroscience-based odor neutralizer for cars. This system is based on the diffusion of a "neutral" fragrance, which inhibits the perception of unpleasant odors in the passenger compartment.

Here, the idea isn't to mask bad smells by adding a perfume, but to use a neutral fragrance to modify the signal received by the brain that activates the cognitive perception of the bad smell. As such, the bad smell remains, but the occupants of the car no longer perceive it. This neutral fragrance acts as a kind of decoy, and makes it possible to override the perception of odors such as tobacco, food or sweat that can be present inside the car, especially when there are several people sharing the space.

To achieve this, Valeo collaborated with researchers at the Weizmann Institute's olfactory research laboratory in Israel. The product will be available from the second half of 2022 in the form of a medallion hanging from the rearview mirror or a diffuser fixed to the central air vent.

While private individuals will obviously be able to benefit from this technology, it is more likely to be used by professional fleets, rental cars and taxicabs. In theory, it can also be adapted for buses.

In addition to Odor Free, Valeo's teams are also working on how to use odors to influence the driver's moods and alertness.

Discover the Odor Free concept in this video: youtu.be/56eP6SmHji8

David Bénard

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