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Smell The Colour Of The Rainbow





A design-led Knowledge Transfer Fellowship in collaboration with Philips Research and Northumbria University School of Design.

‘Smell The Colour Of The Rainbow’ was a Knowledge Transfer Fellowship funded by the AHRC in 2010 which was awarded to commercialise the AHRC funded eScent project (Innovation Award 2005). 


Dr Jenny Tillotson worked with Philips Research in Cambridge and Eindhoven, supported by Professor Raymond Oliver from Northumbria University School of Design. Over the course of a year, they engaged in an active Knowledge Transfer programme to explore opportunities resulting from Dr Tillotson’s award-winning academic work on ‘SmartSecondSkin’ and ‘eScent’ (granted patent 2009), in areas of interest to Philips Research (e.g. AVENT mother and baby care business). The project also involved smell experts Professor Tim Jacob from the School of Biosciences, Cardiff University and aromacholgist and therapist Kim Lahiri from Simple Essentials, in addition to  jewellery designer Slim Barrett.

Professor Jacob prepared a Fellowship research report identifying a spectrum of evidenced-based fragrances to promote well-being, promote sleep, reduce stress-related blood pressure, treat post natal depression and improve the quality of care for the wider community.

The fellowship also benefited Dr Tillotson’s company Sensory Design & Technology Ltd, founded with Professor Andreas Manz (her collaborator on the ‘eScent’ project in 2005 and co-founder) and the patent was assigned from the University of the Arts London for commercialisation purposes.

S M E L L   T H E    C O L O U R   O F   T H E   R A I N B O W

The Fellowship was inspired by 'Green Lantern' (DC Comics) and explored the interaction of colour and fragrance on the emotional health and wellbeing of people. The union of several  disciplines within the design, health and wellbeing industries were brought together to provide a unique slant on the physiological and psychological manifestations of moods: 


Colour therapy, combined with the therapeutic effects of healing essential oils, to create a personal bubble that is responsive to your individual needs.


This led to new concepts and innovations at the forefront of a growing trend to enhance the sleep experience through fragrance and colour. Products were created for Consumer Lifestyle that delivered a vapour of essential oils, known by association to alleviate the negative effects of stress, sleep and post-natal depression.


The aim of this Knowledge Transfer Fellowship (KTF) funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) was to improve on the design of the eScent technology Dr Jenny Tillotson developed in collaboration with Professor Andreas Manz (funded by an AHRC Innovation Award), for the benefit of the fashion, health, fitness and the ecological consumer market, through collaboration with Philips. ‘eScent®’ is an example of a design-led wearable wireless technology: a user-worn delivery device that is tailored to fit your mood by dispensing sensory effects in response to a stimulus (i.e. timer, biometric sensor or switch).

‘Smell The Colour Of The Rainbow’ stemmed from research on Scentsory Design® by Dr Jenny Tillotson at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London.  Over the course of 18 months, Dr Tillotson’s team - including Professor Tim Jacob from Cardiff University and Kim Lahiri from Simple Essentials - engaged in an active Knowledge Transfer programme to explore opportunities resulting from her patented work on ‘eScent®’ and Smart Second Skin in areas of interest to Philips Research. 


The aim of the fellowship was to advance ways of improving the quality of care in the wider community; to reduce stress and improve sleep, using fragrances in wearable technologies and product design, and demonstrate the effectiveness of prototypes that react to the physiological response of the wearer (e.g. to reflect mood).  Knowledge transfer took place during the fellowship benefiting Philips and Dr Tillotson’s ‘Quantified Self’ research on mood and sleep disorders which she presented at the first European Quantified Self Conference in November 2011.

The identified application was primarily within Philips Lighting for stress/sleep businesses (including therapy/‘mood’/SAD lamps) and 'Philips AVENT' (mother/child). This included products and jewellery designed by Slim Barrett and wearable concepts covered by the patent, such as 'InnoSCENT', a wearable wireless monitor that creates a therapeutic wellness 'scent bubble' to help relax the parents and nursing bras to ease breast-feeding for the mother.




The findings centre on evidence-based essential oils as the basis for wearable stress and sleep management product ideas using joint expertise in design, fragrance, colour therapy and technology. These elements were introduced into the world of health and wellbeing, using mood-enhancement and a controllable 'scent bubble' as the route. 


Essential oils such as sweet orange, neroli, lavender and peppermint were validated and correlated with colour, to create a personalised ‘therapeutic rainbow’ pendulum that acts as a wearable mood enhancement  'scent bubble' and is customisable by the user.


The therapeutic pendulum ranges across:

de-stress --> soothe --> relief --> calm --> balance --> peaceful --> relax --> revive --> super-energise




Besides Philips, the KTF impacted on the fragrance/wellbeing and fashion industries, mental health community, complementary and alternative medicine and scent marketing industries. The KT Fellowship was also awarded to benefit Dr Tillotson’s company Sensory Design & Technology Ltd, associated with the University of Cambridge.

"The Philips mission statement '[to] improve the quality of people’s lives through timely introduction of meaningful innovations' is very well reflected in the work Dr Tillotson and her team have carried out as part of the Knowledge Transfer Fellowship.

Dr Tillotson has successfully brought together an expert team in the area of scent and smell; in particular the contributions of Professor Tim Jacob and Kim Lahiri are noteworthy.

Philips is satisfied that a significant knowledge transfer (and in fact, knowledge exchange) has taken place due to the KTF, ultimately benefiting both Philips and Dr Tillotson.  It was clearly demonstrated that there is a benefit in including scent delivery as part of 'emotional' products, with the KTF work showing scientific evidence for links between scent, colour and emotional state in a number of examples."


- Dr Steffen Reymann, Senior Scientist,

Philips Research, Cambridge, April 2012.





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