Who Nose How Well We Smell?

Dog with fake nose and glasses

How many separate smells can humans detect? Who nose? Some say a trillion, others say a few thousand. The sense of smell is mysterious and subjective. We are still learning how to describe and measure scents, and even how to market with them. Nevertheless, there are remarkable examples of people with amazing olfactory abilities. Enjoy this roundup of smell stories.

Smell and Health

“What is a ‘healthy’ smell? Can smells influence health? Bad smells signify a possible hazard … so some diseases smell bad, but not all, for example the breath of diabetics smells sweet. What is a ‘good’ smell and why are there good smells?”
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Surprising New Discoveries About Our Sense of Smell

“Joy could smell a musky odor coming from her husband’s neck area, but she didn’t think much of it, until six years later, when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Joy and her husband were attending a Parkinson’s disease support group, and to her astonishment, she detected the same musky smell coming from the other patients. She decided to tell her doctor, who contacted a research lab, which performed a controlled experiment with her.”
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How Many Different Smells Can The Human Nose Actually Detect?

“For this report, we worked with data content firm Priceonomics to analyze anonymized Redbooth data spanning hundreds of thousands of users to determine how and when people complete tasks. We calculated percentages based on the total number of tasks reported as completed.”
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Speaking Perfume: A–Z of Common Fragrance Descriptions

“Who would ever guess that ‘aromatic’ in perfumery parlance means green, camphorous, herbal notes, as opposed to ‘having an aroma,’ as a dictionary would define it? Or how would one define balsamic, aldehydic and floralcy?”
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Inside the Invisible but Influential World of Scent Branding

“Scented environments have been shown to reduce typos made by office workers; improve the perception of product quality; increase purchase intent, average unit sales, and duration of a retail visit or stay among consumers; and boost the willingness of consumers to pay more for a product. But from offices and trade show booths to retail environments and the products themselves, the true power of olfactory branding (also known as scent branding) is in its unique ability to form immediate, powerful, and differentiated emotional connections with customers, particularly within a category of functionally similar offerings.”
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Photo by Braydon Anderson on Unsplash