Updated: Nov 9, 2020
Moodify wants you to follow your nose to safer driving
An Israeli company says it's figured out how to use special fragrances to block foul odors and even alter human behavior.
Flying cars, a nuclear reactor in every home and smell-o-vison are a few innovations our forebears in the 1950s probably thought were just around the proverbial corner. Unfortunately, or perhaps luckily, none of these things have come to pass yet, though this may no longer be the case for that last item.
Moodify, a startup company based in Tel Aviv, Israel, says it has figured out how to use scents to alter human behavior, improve performance, enhance feelings of wellbeing and even increase vehicular safety. This sounds like the stuff of science fiction or the gimmick of a bad romantic comedy, but while speaking at a private media event at CES 2020 in Las Vegas, Yigal Sharon, the company's CEO and co-founder, said it's all backed by scientific fact.
Founded in 2017, Moodify draws on extensive development and testing. "Everything we bring to the table is backed by 10 years of research" conducted at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, Sharon said.
How is this all said to work? Well, it's a bit complicated, but here's the gist. Certain aromas deliver unique signals to the brain that cause humans to react without even consciously knowing it.
Sharon said the work he and his company have done has resulted in the creation of various formulations, each with a specific purpose. So far, these are Moodify White, Moodify Blue, Moodify Green and Moodify Red. Think of these as perfumes that can directly alter human behavior.
First out of the gate is Moodify White, which is launching at this year's CES. It's designed to change how humans perceive odors. Like a volume knob, it's supposed to essentially turn down the intensity of undesirable smells.
As a demonstration, Sharon handed out some small, air freshenerlike fobs infused with this Moodify White. When they eventually go on sale, he estimates these passive diffusers will sell for $25 each and last a month. Anecdotally, after opening the one I was given, one or two sniffs did seem to cancel out the cleaning-solution smell of my Vegas hotel room, but of course, we'd need to do real testing to render a verdict.
Sharon said Moodifier White can be used to make ride-hailing vehicles and rental cars more pleasant or to reduce tobacco-smoke aromas indoors -- perhaps in buses, public spaces and even on airplanes. He also noted it'd be great for dealerships, to help reduce the perception of unwanted aromas in used cars.
Moving on, this is where things start getting a little weird. "Moodify Blue can calm you down," Sharon said, reducing stress and aggression. Unfortunately, compared with the Moodify White formulation, "The Blue will cost more because this is a very specialized signal, which has to be synthesized," though oddly enough, it's a copy of pheromones found in human tears. He said he hopes it will hit the market in six to eight months, possibly as an oil you can rub on your skin if you feel anxious. "This has huge potential," he said.