How many people are suffering from smell dysfunction?
The accumulated confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide is over 170 million. Among these people, a considerable amount still have side effects after recovery. One noticable symptom is smell dysfunction. Among 77% of COVID-19 patients who had smell loss during COVID, 5 to 10% still have smell dysfunction after the recovery. Considering the amount of COVID-19 patients globally, this is a large population.Beyond that, approximately 5 percent of the global population lives with a significantly reduced ability to smell, and an estimated 13.3 million Americans report living with some type of smell dysfunction. As the pandemic continues, this number is still increasing. “Anosmia seems like a curious phenomenon, but it can be devastating for the small fraction of people in whom it’s persistent,” said Datta from Harvard medical school research team. “It can have serious psychological consequences and could be a major public health problem if we have a growing population with permanent loss of smell.”
What caused this symptom?
The ACE2 receptors that COVID-19 Virus uses to infect cells are targeting support cells in the nasal lining. These included sustentacular cells, which wrap around sensory neurons and are thought to provide structural and metabolic support, and basal cells, which act as stem cells that regenerate the olfactory epithelium after damage. The outcome of support cell infection is a damage to olfactory sensory neurons, who send smell signals to the brain. The time needed to rebuild nasal lining varies among individuals. The good news is that various studies have suggested that for people whose olfactory perception has been damaged after a viral infection, repeated short-term exposure to smells can help them to recover.
Animation: Rick Groleau
What's the current solution?
This treatment is called Smell Training. To do smell training, patients purchase essential oils or fragrance sticks in specific scents. Patients are advised to train twice a day, morning and evening, with each smell for about 20 seconds to achieve the best effect. This training usually lasts 4-6 months or longer depends on individuals.
Patients usually will use scents from multiple scent spectrums, including floral (rose), fruity (lemon), aromatic (cloves or lavender), and resinous (eucalyptus).
Traditional smell training
Difficulties when using traditional smell-training
Smell therapy isn’t just about the simple act of sniffing fragrances—patients also need to focus on what the scent represents while smelling it. Essentially, the idea is that this retrains both your brain and nose to recognize those smells. The idea is for you to try and think about what roses smell like and what they look like by combining visual imagery with the stimulation of the isolated scent. However, for the majority of scents, it’s unrealistic for patients to actually see the object in real life. When you don’t have a rose at home, all you can rely on is your memory, which doesn’t have a strong visual stimulation compared to seeing it in 3D real life.
Smell training is a long battle. Many patients need to take this therapy everyday for months or longer to fully recover. It is advisable and interesting to keep a log of the odor training. Make notes of what you observe so that you can observe any progression. It is important that you have patience and perform the training consistently. Patience and perseverance are the keys. However, for patients who already have smell dysfunction or anosmia, recording the minor changes and updates in smelling over months could be a hard task. It’s also hard for them to quantify their sense of smell in the record. Also, a repetitive training of smell everyday could be an exhausting experience.
What is Smell Revived?
To help patients recover better, we introduce you: Smell Revived. Smell Revived is the first virtual reality system targeting Post-COVID smell training. This product is aiming to revolutionize the smell training experience. By bringing Virtual Reality into smell therapy, we make the therapy experience more fun, engaging and effective. Users can visit virtual spaces to recall the origin of a scent and the daily encounters with the scent.
Why our product provides a better user experience?
A Smell Revived system consists of a training pod, essential oil filling tablets and a virtual reality experience platform. Our training pod is wireless and lightweight. It can be held by hand or clipped on the collar. This pod redefines the smell training to be portable, private and convenient. Patients can buy their favorite filling tablets online to refill their training pod. We provide all kinds of scents from fruits, flowers, wood, spices, food and beyond. Users can purchase in singles or default packages.
This product supports connection with a variety of VR headset devices. Users only need to pair devices via Bluetooth. For those who do not have a VR headset at home, they can use the mobile phone to display the virtual environment and wear google cardboard to experience VR. By bringing virtual reality into smell therapy, we make the therapy experience more fun, engaging and effective.
Smell Revived system showcase
Essential oil tablets
Why our Virtual Reality system improves the training efficiency and engagement?
In virtual reality, patients can focus very much on the current scent training without being disturbed by the external environment. When they picked up a handful of coffee beans and heard the sound of grinding beans and making coffee in their earphones, the process of recalling the smell of coffee would not be so boring and difficult. It’s also recommended by professionals that patients switch between different scents during a training session, so that they can better notice the nuance differences between each scent. While physically switching surroundings is not feasible,our virtual experience could help patients quickly review a variety of scent scenes, which harvest a better result.
User testing apple scene in VR
In our system, users have their own private training accounts. For each scent, we designed a variety of different interactive environments to stimulate the user's visual connection. At the same time, according to the memory curve, we will help patients gradually review the tastes and scenes they have experienced before to record their recovery. By analysing the patient’s responding time on scent quizzes, we can get a quantified record of the progression. Patients can monitor their training time for each scent, total training time, correct rate in review challenges, and so on.