What happened when I let AI pick my perfume

What happened when I let AI pick my perfume

Scent is such a personal experience. I’d never trust anyone else to nail my signature perfume, and yet, I let a robot pick my fragrance for me.

AI perfume may sound so sci-fi and space age that it feels far away, but it’s much closer than you’d think. In fact, it’s reached the high street. That’s how I found myself stood in The Fragrance Shop’s flagship store on Oxford Street, while a machine mixed together three bespoke scents in front of me.

The fragrance retailer has partnered up with EveryHuman, an algorithmic perfumery library and the world’s first AI guided scent creation platform to offer shoppers the chance to blend a personalised fragrance based on their history, preferences, personality and style.

Getting to know you

After scanning a QR code, the process starts with a questionnaire of 22 in-depth questions designed to work out how you tick. The multi-choice Q&A covers where you grew up, your favourite activities, your style, the colour that best represents you, how talkative, shy and outgoing you are, how rude, forgiving and trusting you are, how original, curious and inventive you are and a range of other inquiry’s. You get to play an active role in the outcome by choosing how sweet, floral, fruity, woody, green, citrusy, leathery, powdery, earthy and fresh you want the fragrance to be on a sliding scale. Likewise you can pick where on the dial you want your scent to fall in terms of its simplicity vs complexity, how modern vs classic it is and how masculine or feminine you’d like it. It gets a little meta towards the end and probes you into disclosing your approach in answering the questions. Were you as honest as possible, challenging the system, impersonating your favourite character, or chasing your dream alter ego, for instance?

The algorithm takes all your answers into account and gets to work creating three different scent expressions based on what you input.

How the machine works

There are over 48 glass vials holding individual notes like “pepper” “sandalwood” “metallic” “peach” “black musk”. It gives the algorithm endless scent combinations to play with. The platform generates a code with your three scent profiles, which you input into the computer at the scent station. This tells the machine exactly what notes and percentages to mix to create your fragrance. The machine gets to work dispensing each note before its mixed at the end, labelled and released to you to sniff.

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