Final Product Details


XSense is inspired by MIT media lab's essence, which was also published at CHI 2017. We build on this idea and build Xsense, and wearable designed for astronauts who live in space for a prolonged period.

When a person is far away, specially as far away as space, he/she misses his/her family. Absence of family members or loved ones makes a void in one's life. Astronauts, when in space are reduced to interacting with family members via either looking at photos or interacting with them via skype. These interactions are visual and use the sense of sight. Some evidence of yearning for loved ones while in space is provided by Scott Kelly's tweets while in space: and Scott Kelly is a retired American astronaut affiliated to NASA, who spent the year 2015-2016 in the international space station.

Given that humans have various other modalities for communication, interaction and emotional exchange, we posit Xsense, a wearable which allows astronauts to feel close to their loved ones via tapping into their olfactory sense. As the Essence paper mentioned earlier states, many at times, we associate a characteristic scent with a person. It can be a perfume, body odor, a shampoo etc. By releasing such a characteristic scent reminiscent of loved ones - based on certain triggers (we focus on kiss and time based triggers) - we posit that astronauts in space can experience an added sense of proximity to the ones they care about.

Key Challenges

  1. Designing a wearable which would actually be wearable ie: keep the design for wearability criteria of size, shape, social acceptability etc in mind.
  2. While it should be wearable across the above dimensions, the wearable should also have some novel interactions.
  3. Detecting a kiss
  4. Mechanism for release of scent


After getting feedback on our low fidelity prototype, which was in the shape of a pendant, we decided to go ahead with certain design changes suggested by Prof. Aman and some friends (both who are and aren't taking WARDI). Instead of having only 2 scent bottles, we added a third one. We changed the shape of the pendant from an oval (which would constraint the amount of space) to that resembling a cylinder to allow for a more modular design. Now, our design can be extended to more than 3 bottles but there would be a tradeoff in terms of the size of the device. Thus we found 3 to be the optimal number for the bottles. Below are the images of the final bottles, servo motor, flaps to cover the bottles, the assembled structure and the outer covering of the pendant in which the assembled structure rests.

Process and Techniques Used

We used our knowledge gained during the OnShape tutorial in class for 3D printing which was essential for designing all the parts of our product. We 3D printed these parts by extracting the file as STL and exporting it in cura, which then sent the print command to the printer. Depending on height width and density, time taken to print each part varied from 20 - 90 minutes.

Once all the parts were printed and assembled, we needed to build the circuit for interactions.

To detect a kiss we used a velostat. Behind each photo of the loved ones a separate velostat is attached. These velostats are connected to the analog pins on the arduino. Any change in pressure on the velostat is detected by these analog pins and based on which analog pin detected a change, we rotate the servo motor by the required angle.

The other trigger is based on a timer. The code which detects both these triggers needs to be uploaded to the arduino once and after that there is no code-based maintenance required. For the code and circuit schematic check out our github repo:

We soldered the circuit such that there's minimal wires hanging out and also so that the device is robust to external forces. We also took care of certain design for wearability criteria such as that of having proper heat sink and making sure the device not obstructs any other movements by making sure the pendant remained compact. The placement of the wearable is also chosen carefully so that it is close the nose and not much extra effort is needed to trigger the release of the scent.


We used the idea proposed by MIT Media lab's essence of tapping into olfactory senses to add the following extra novel features to our product:

  • More than one scent, modular design to extend it to n number of scents where n is the people you can love.
  • Adapted design of release mechanism for space.
  • New interaction based on kiss.
  • Added a second interaction based on a timer based trigger.

Future Work

While we have implemented the entire product, it does need some finishing touches. Following are the future works:

  • Add battery and make Arduino go behind the neck along with the battery to ensure the product is more easily wearable
  • Add a mesh above scent bottles to make sure not all scent is released in one go
  • Test it in zero gravity conditions
  • Expand the scope of the product to be used on more relatable situations on earth. For example, for old parents living away from their children or vice-versa.