A whiff of genius to combat fear of flying

Toulouse inventor has created a headset to diffuse soothing smells and music to passengers

A researcher from France’s aeronautical capital Toulouse has invented a brand new way to help passengers conquer the fear of flying.

Thierry Talou, a researcher at L’institut national polytechnique in Toulouse, had the idea of combining music and calming smells in the same headset in order to reduce onboard stress.

At first glance, the C2AO – called an aero-audio-olfacto headset – looks like a normal headset with a microphone. There is one difference, however: in addition to emitting music, it can also diffuse calming scents such as mint or lavender in order to relax passengers for ten-minute periods during take-off or landing.

"The idea is to pair calming music with essential oils whose de-stressing properties are well known," said Mr Talou, a research engineer at the Toulouse agro-industrial chemistry laboratory and head of the Flavlab.

The researcher has always worked on the analysis of odours. "This time, we wanted to create a project related to aeronautics," the researcher told La Dépêche du Midi.

The C2AO headset, developed as part of the 4-D printing project (including odorized 3-D printing) would be connected to an MP3 player to generate music. "And for the diffusion of odours, we will rely on a small pump, into which we will put a tube filled with odorized 3D printed wires. The pump will push the smells so that they arrive on the diffuser," added Mr Talou.

The helmet is still in prototype form but could be presented to potential buyers in July at the ESOF (EuroScience Open Forum) at the Quai des Savoirs in Toulouse.

The odour diffuser could also be paired with virtual reality glasses to project soothing images to travellers suffering from air sickness.

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