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DiagNOSE Scentsory Bubble

DiagNOSE Scentsory Bubble


The oncology journey is often a very lonely time for the cancer sufferer. My cancer story is not a personal one but, rather, a vision for the future that offers ‘hope’, based on holistic, responsive fashion fused with science and current sensing technology.


Vision, hearing, smell, taste, and the tactile senses serve as bridges between the external world and our brains.


Micro sensors are miniaturised electronic devices, that can detect chemical, physical, or biomedical signals that, in turn, can be processed on a computer. 


The miniaturisation of most kinds of sensors has already been achieved, but the ‘electronic nose’, the sensor that mimics the sense of smell, is only starting to gain recognition… and this is where my vision begins.


For the Oncology On Canvas Competition 2006, I have created an image of a digital ‘scentsory’ dress, for women who suffer from cancer and, in particular, breast cancer.


The garment has two purposes: it offers preventative and therapeutic value in a desirable fashion context. 


The first purpose is for the fabric to emulate a dog’s sense of smell by detecting the early stages of breast cancer through electronic nose sensors embedded deep within the fabric.  Dogs have long been able to sniff out explosives and narcotics and recent research has proved that they can also smell early stages of breast cancer.  There are a number of laboratories around the world working on electronic nose sensors that will, one day, function like a dog’s nose.  We may be some years away from ‘nose’ sensors as a fashion accessory, but designers are working on smart fabrics that adds aroma to fashion design by creating radical, active, ‘scentsory’ properties.


And this leads to the second purpose of the dress, which will help those in recovery feel safe. The dress will act as a holistic healing platform to improve quality of life in the last stages of cancer, and will be engineered to address, where possible, a number of physical symptoms such as: bone pain (possible indication of bone metastases); shortness of breath (possible indication of lung metastases); lack of appetite (possible indication of liver metastases); weight loss (possible indication of liver metastases); neurological pain or weakness, headaches (possible indications of neurological metastases); as well as delivering important psychological end-benefits such as stress reduction, insomnia and depression.


It offers a personal ‘scentsory bubble’ around women. The sensors detect stress physiologically and the fabrics produce beneficial aromas in controlled ways responding to their changing personal needs.


It will not only help improve the ‘wellbeing’ of the patient but the individual achieves ‘inner strength’ to fight cancer, and personal comfort through the delivery of digitally controlled scents.


Although my vision may be regarded as being science fiction by some it could, one day, become a reality… and I hope that when it does, it will help improve the quality of life for many women.

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