What is a Sniff Map?
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Sniff Map

The olfactory landscape is a rich and complex world, influenced by countless odors and their varying characteristics. It is difficult to capture in a visual representation, and is often based on perceptions at a single point in time.

The Sniff Map is a method that aims to create a visual representation of this olfactory landscape. It is a way to explore the richness of olfactory experience and celebrate the complexities of our cities’ smells.

What is a Sniff Map?

A Sniff Map is a digital map of the olfactory landscape of a city. Researchers from the academic and technology worlds (Yahoo) are sniffing their way around cities to create these odor-centric maps.

A smell map can chart a layer of personal experience, history or social trends on top of spatial reality. Like non-odorous maps, they can also serve as a way to stimulate memory and imagination.

Kate McLean, an artist and course leader for Graphic Design at the University of Kent in England, surveys the smellscapes of several cities and translates their sensory qualities into maps. As with visual landscapes, the odorscapes can only represent one time-specific instance, but they are a glimpse into the wealth of information that smells can reveal about cities. Sniff Maps are available to download from Datastory. You can also find out more about the project on her blog. The first Sniff Map was created for New York City.

How to Make a Sniff Map

If you’ve ever taken a sniff around a city, you know that the odors can change in just a few steps. From flowers and food to trash and pee, smells can quickly take us from one place to another.

A group of researchers, including scientists and tech companies (Yahoo), are using their own noses and crowdsourcing to create “smell maps” of several global cities. They’ve created a few to date, including London and Barcelona, but they’re still in the early stages of the project.

Smell is a more complex sensory experience than visual perception, with molecules that vary more dramatically, and in ways that are hard to record. But Rossano Schifanella, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Turin in Italy, says that he’s been able to design new mapping tools and computational methods to understand people’s multi-sensory experience. These methods allow him to make olfactory maps that can tell us more about the world and how we relate to it than ever before.

How to Use a Sniff Map

If you’ve ever walked through a city, you know that the smells can differ from one neighborhood to another. From the sweet scent of flowers and food to car exhaust, ripe garbage and pee-soaked dog parks, urban smells are a window into the world around you. In an attempt to capture these sensory qualities, a group of researchers are mapping the olfactory landscape of global cities.

They call their maps “smellscapes,” which are similar to visual landscapes in that they can reflect an individual or collective perception of a place at a particular point in time. But unlike visual landscapes, which are based on facts and statistics, smellscapes are rooted in a person’s or society’s personal experience, history or social trends. In this case, they serve as a kind of storytelling stimulator (Caquard). If you’re interested in learning more, check out Rossano Schifanella’s blog and follow him on Twitter. He’ll share the details of his olfactory mapping project.

What to Avoid

A Sniff Map can be a great way to add some pizazz to your dungeon crawl. However, if you’re not careful, you might end up with a smelly mess to clean up. A good way to avoid this is to place your map on a wall that’s not exposed to direct sunlight and moisture. You can also use MicroChamber Interleaving Paper to absorb odors. If you’re a reseller or retailer, you can protect your bottom line by following Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) guidelines and using software like Sniffie to keep track of your sales.

Have questions? Contact us today. We’re happy to help! The Sniffee has been in business since 2011. You can find out more by visiting our website or calling us at 1.800.446.0608.