By Sarah Kyo, Public Affairs Assistant
From 3-D visuals to motion-sensing video game platforms, the entertainment and video game industries have used the latest technology to tap into consumers’ senses. Could smell be the next frontier?
That’s the case Scent Sciences Corporation is making with the products it’s developing and beginning to market, with assistance from summer intern Carlotta Zorzi, an Italian exchange student at SJSU.
“She brings new energy to the company,” said Bill Wiles, president and CEO of the San Jose-based company. “She’s extremely pro-active, which in a startup is important.”
Zorzi, who attends Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland, credits her SJSU education during the 2010-2011 academic year for helping her with her current position.
“I don’t think I’d have been prepared to face this kind of internship without the skills that SJSU gave me,” Zorzi said. “I took classes specifically about PR writing and advertising layout during this last year, and I’ve learned a lot. Especially professors Nate Digre, Matt Cabot and Dona Nichols gave me the right skills and advice to face this kind of experience in the right way. I’ll always be grateful to SJSU for giving me practical skills in my field of study.”
Zorzi found out about the internship from her SJSU International House roommate, who was a student of lecturer Peter Young. Young, who teaches in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, is an adviser and consultant for Scent Sciences. Wiles said Young has provided insights and ideas for the business.
“When I start a new company, he is one of the first people I get involved,” said Wiles, regarding Young.
Scent Sciences’ thermal-based ScentScape system connects to a computer via a USB cable. The system contains individual oils that are vaporized when triggered by a code in a video game or other type of media, Wiles said. Additional products from the company allow industry members and consumers alike to create their own scents.
Young said the products provide a much deeper level of entertainment when playing video games, for example.
“Now you get to smell the swamp, smell the burning building,” he said.
Young said while the system may not be for everyone, there are many possible applications. Wiles foresees the company’s products, projected for release by early next year, being used for marketing, aromatherapy and rehabilitation. Scent Sciences has partnered with the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom to develop game-based military training and rehabilitation for the UK Ministry of Defence.
Part of Zorzi’s work is keeping in touch with Scent Science’s partners, as well as creating fliers and news releases, working on web design and utilizing social networks.
“It’s great learning from those who already had many experiences in terms of business, and it’s great feeling appreciated for my work as an intern and as an international student,” Zorzi said. “The Scent Sciences project relates to the movie industry, which would be the field I’d like to finally work for. Can you imagine smelling the scents of what you’re watching at the cinema?”
Wiles said he would like to continue working with Zorzi after she returns to Europe at the end of this summer. Wiles also said he is interested in offering an internship to an SJSU engineering student who is “as good as Carlotta.”