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Innovation Design Engineering (MA/MSC)

Ling Qin

Ling Qin is a cross-disciplinary researcher. During his journey in Innovation Design Engineering, he explores multi-sensory interfaces to enhance interpersonal connection, human-computer interaction, and well-being. His research work has been published in world’s top conferences and journals such as ACM CHI, HCII, and ACS AMI.

Previously, Ling graduated from the University of Nottingham with a BEng in Product Design and Manufacture. He enjoyed working with students and professionals from different backgrounds. He has collaborated internationally with Monash(2018), TAMU(2018), UAL(2020), UCL(2020),and TUM(2021) in the areas of advanced material fabrication, Human-computer/machine interaction, art installations, and virtual reality.

The sense of smell, or so called olfaction, is massively underappreciated, despite the fact that it monitors airborne agents that humans inhale into our respiratory system and determines to a large degree the flavour and palatability of foods and beverages. We take it for granted that our olfaction always performs well until the Covid-19 broke out. A typical symptom of the coronavirus is smell loss. However, the virus is not the only factor that leads to the loss of sensation. Main factors include poor air quality, smoking, exposure to hazardous chemicals, abuse of drugs, and allergies. People with an absence of smell are experiencing a declining quality of life, including changes in appetite or body weight, adverse influences on daily living or psychological well-being, and chemosensory disturbance.

Fortunately, smell loss is not the end of the world. Conducting smell training helps anosima people regain their smell. The conventional way of smell training is solely based on exposure to four distinct scents.  The science behind it is that olfactory cells where smelling is processed are capable of regeneration. Constantly and regularly stimulating these cells helps the olfactory system function normally.

In this project, I present a novel smell training approach - Seent. By playing a series of scent memory and recognition micro-games, Seent helps people with  smell loss rehabilitate their sense of smell with an enjoyable and easy experience.

Micro-games or mini-games, were commonly described as short, self-contained, naughty, educational, and simply logical. They are widely applied to educational training. It is very useful for students to acquire knowledge without noticing it. Previous research indicated that micro-games improve visual memory and short-term memory of the students. Features of micro-games include: 1) A complete storyline usually does not appear throughout the game. This feature helps players to start the game instantly without having to understand its background and settings. 2) A reduced period of time when playing the game. The game continues unless players want to quit. 3) Micro-games only require simple and repetitive inputs, unlike traditional games which rely on complicated manipulations and have difficulty adjustment mechanisms. Such inputs provide players with limited but useful feedback. 4) Micro-Games that are used to provide conceptual information often rely on the retention of information. This feature is consistent with the mechanism of smell training.

In this project, I developed a series of smell memory and recognition micro-games to facilitate a fun and easy smell training experience.

— Each game session begins with learning, 4 scents will be released for 20s from the generator, each with a visual aid. Then, a random scent from the learning session will be emitted for 10s . At the end of release, users will be asked which scent they just smell. Followed by the feedback, it is the score of the game play. Users can evaluate their sensitivity on scents by referring to the scores. The complexity of the game comes from different scent combinations.
— I used a diffuser to vaporize essential oils and a servo motor to index a certain scent according to the game interface. The diffuser can produce constant and steady aroma flow. By changing the palette with more capsules, the increased complexity of the game can be achieved. Another benefit of this design is that users can refill it easily. Please visit www.ling-qin.com for more update on this project.