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Innovation & new products

Can Artificial Intelligence make more unique fragrances than a human nose?

According to Richard Goodwin, principal research scientist on an IBM project studying how to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) for product — specifically perfume — composition, the skill that takes perfumers ten or more years to develop may be learned quicker and more precisely by AI. Mr Goodwin’s research has already led to the creation of two fragrances for Brazilian brand O Boticario.

Symrise perfumer David Appel creating O Boticario perfume with AI apprentice

Symrise perfumer David Appel creating O Boticario perfume with AI apprentice

Richard Goodwin, along with his research team at IBM and global flavor and fragrance producer, Symrise, “created an AI system that can learn about formulas, raw materials, historical success data and industry trendsbringing perfumers intelligent machine-learning apprentices. Globally speaking, this can save master perfumers time to perfect a fragrance rather than searching for new combinations.

Entirely new fragrance formulas

The project was built upon previously done company research that used artificial intelligence to pair flavors and create recipes combined with the more recent Research AI for Product Composition. As a result, a new system using advanced machine learning algorithms to comb through enormous databases of formulas and materials to recognize patterns and new mixtures was conceived. This system, called Philyra, is used to, “design entirely new fragrance formulas by exploring the entire landscape of fragrance combinations to discover the whitespaces in the global fragrance market.

Such a method can be applied to various fields of fragrance from fine fragrances, home care, and beauty care. All these categories require very specific scents based on various fragrance families (like floral, fruity, or musky), especially fine fragrances which are considered works of art. The information that the AI analyzes can then be used to develop fragrances for incredibly specific markets like, as Goodwin used as an example, for Brazilian millennials.

The first fragrances created by an AI

The algorithms used by Philyra span four main categories: raw material complements and substitutes, raw material dosage, human responses, and novelty level of the composition. With each of these taken into account, Symrise’s Philyra successfully designed two perfumes for O Boticario. The first fragrances created by an AI are expected to go on sale next year in Brazil. Before committing these fragrances to the market, however, the initial formulas... were tweaked by a master perfumer to emphasize a certain note and improve how long it lasted on the skin.

This effort brings together human expertise with machine intelligence to create novel, fine fragrances. Philyra’s understanding of consumer preferences and knowledge of formulas and ingredients, led to new fragrance combinations, which allowed our perfumers to accelerate the creative design process and focus on perfecting the final products,” said Alexandre Bouza, Marketing Director, O Boticario. “Advances in AI are helping us introduce unique, new fragrances to our customers. We are very excited to be part of this collaboration with Symrise and IBM Research.

A new tool for perfumers

Once perfecting the algorithms used for creating fine fragrances, Philyra can be modified to other, less luxurious, fields of fragrances like laundry detergents, shampoos, or basically any other beauty or cleaning product we use. Fragrance is integrated into basically every aspect the human experience. As Goodwin wrote, “the art and science of designing a winning perfume is something humans have explored for hundreds of years,” which means perfumers have hundreds of years of fragrances to sift through. With a machine by their side, perfumers can focus on the art and human experience behind a fragrance, rather than trying to find a novel composition.

Premium Beauty News and AFP/Relaxnews

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