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Using Augmented Reality, Smell, and Music to Better Preserve Memories

Image credit: Photo by Kevin Delvecchio on Unsplash

Oguntola Tobi
Oguntola Tobi Nov 22, 2021
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Have you ever lost someone close to you? Felt like experiencing them one more time? You know, hear their voice, hold them, and smell them?
While there's a way to do that - images and recorded videos of them - it is inadequate.
In my opinion, these two things work best because they can evoke memories. However, memories are unreliable and untrustworthy. Plus, over time, they become hazy and blurry.
Imagine a scenario where you watch a video of a loved one 4 years after their death. Yes, you'll remember how that day was. You'll probably have an inkling of what they smelled like and how you felt during that exact scene, if you were there. If you weren't, you'll remember how they made you feel at other times.
Try watching that video again 2 years later and your memories of them will have less clarity. How they smell will be less sharp. Also, how they made you feel will be less crisp than the first time you watched the video.
Basically, that person who used to mean the world to you will fade away slowly.
Why that might be a good thing for some people, I believe we can preserve the memories of our lost loved ones better.
My Idea
Use a mixture of augmented reality, smelling technology, and music to better preserve moments and strengthen our memories.
Smell is a better anchor for memory and emotions than sight and several studies have proved this, including this one by Dr. Rachel Herz at Brown University in 2004 and this one by Dr. Artin Arshamian in 2013.
Now, imagine we can combine all of these elements when creating "videos."
Even better, imagine we can create three dimensional videos that are interactive AND incorporate smell. By the way, music is another thing that is heavily linked to memory; this article on the Harvard University website discusses this phenomenon in details.
To ensure a more robust experience, users can opt to incorporate the songs and instrumental pieces their loved ones enjoyed.
While there isn't any study per se on this, I believe a combination of these elements can help us hold on to our loved ones memories for the duration of our lifetimes.
How Do We Go About It?
The development of an AR recording device, similar to a camera, that can map a person's surroundings, record their voice, their build, how they walk, and the different mannerisms surrounding them.
I imagine this device will require different things. For example, it will need to be AI-heavy in order to build an accurate digital version of a person and their surroundings.
Also, I imagine a mechanism on the body that does the mapping and collects data on how they walk, body size, height, and so on. Also, there should be a camera that will capture faces, voices, and mannerisms as well. Finally, there is the issue of smell.
A technology that can capture and replicate smell has eluded researchers for decades but we are closer today than ever before. In fact, there are already devices that digitally simulate smell for sale.
I envision a recording device that incorporates these elements and is portable enough to be worn/held by everybody. But we can always start humbly.
The video camera was once a bulky device operable only by people well-versed in its operation. The mobile phone was, at one time, unwieldy and nowhere near as smart as it is today. Even the computer has humble beginnings.
So, an AR recording device can start as big and unwieldy as possible and be operable by specialized personnel, much like we had cameramen. Overtime, developers can work to reduce its size and make it more efficient.
The best part, this device will be useful for a lot of things, even though my primary motivation for its ideation is to preserve the memories of loved ones. For voyeurs, it can be used to record adventures like hiking, bungee jumping, and the likes. Also, it can be used to record hands-on lessons, much in the same way we make video courses today. And so on.
Is this useful?
I believe so. While we can't bring back our lost loved ones, being able to remember them can help us cope with the loss. Also, I believe it can help us feel less alone. And that feeling - that you have people you love in your corner, and with you - is one of the most powerful in the world.
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