A scent, a hat and tattoo: The progress of women in technology


“What is the answer?” When no one responded, Gertrude replied, “What is the question?”

Solutions are found through questions. Here are three ways women in technology who are asking interesting questions, are pushing the boundaries to make our world more open, dynamic and connected.

Jewelry for the mind

When you consider the five basic human senses, which do you think is the most pervasive yet least understood in human-computer interaction (HCI)? Which sense might wield the most influence over one’s performance, mood or cognition?

MIT Media Lab researchers Judith Amores Fernandez and Pattie Maes investigate the sense of smell and its impact on personal well being. They explore new and interesting uses of scent through HCI. They have created “jewelry for the mind,” called Essence, an olfactory computational necklace that releases scent based on biometric or contextual data, which can be remotely controlled by your smartphone. The device monitors brain activity, heart rate and electro-dermal activity, then releases a scent based on your biometric data to help your sleep patterns, stress levels and emotions.

Can you imagine a piece of jewelry that helps people overcome their fear of flying, or those who get secretly anxious when approaching the airport? While you’re thinking about the many possible ways scent can be used to reduce traveler stress, I am thinking of it as the coolest fashion statement ever! And if you’re thinking I’ve lost my mind … keep reading!

Chapeau for your brain

 Oh, you may not think I’m pretty,
But don’t judge on what you see,
I’ll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me.
So put me on! Don’t be afraid!
And don’t get in a flap!
You’re in safe hands (though I have none)

— Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

How about a hat that “communicates praise for effort and ability to improve the resilience and self-esteem of the student wearing it”? The Thinking Cap is a rendition of the “Sorting Hat” from the Harry Potter franchise, and has an electroencephalographic (EEG) headset embedded with a Bluetooth speaker. The BCI (Brain-Computer Interface) algorithms can recognize processes like motor, auditory and visual imagery in students, and report brain patterns through supervised and unsupervised machine learning models. Nataliya Kos’myna is the brain trust behind this technology. What if the Thinking Cap could help us improve our resilience when solving challenging problems at work – or bolster more confidence when we need to learn something new? Can you imagine how amazing it would be to wear a Thinking Cap to the next office brainstorming session? If that idea isn’t crazy enough for you, keep reading.

Body art for your travel journey

Have you seen Beyoncé’s metallic temporary body tattoos? They are freakishly interesting. What if I told you tattoos can interact with the world around you? DuoSkin developed by Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, are skin interfaces that can store, display and transmit data with aesthetics that resemble jewelry or body art.

Can you imagine walking through an airport effortlessly because your body art has stored all your personal and private information? What if your body art could transmit pieces of data, on demand, at various checkpoints in your travel journey such as meal preference, luggage status, seat location and reservation details? And what if your tattoo could be programmed with vibrations to indicate action steps you need to take?

Possibilities like these, once considered Sci-Fi, can now be potentially developed to create a more effortless, end-to-end travel experience.

Dare to dream

Around the globe, women in all technology sectors are making these kinds of incredible contributions. Their influence through unique uses and applications of technology are remarkable. These women have all dared to dream and create a more empowered, inclusive and fulfilling world for us all.

In the Amadeus Live Travel Space, technology is the main driver of change. New ways of working and connecting are opening up new possibilities for travelers and the brands that serve them. At Amadeus, we will continue to make innovations that bring us closer to our customers, ensuring a more open, dynamic and connected travel experience.

So what will be the next frontier in travel technology? A vial of scented courage for your upcoming flight, perhaps? A Thinking Cap to ideate the next big idea in travel startups? Or maybe a tattoo that stores your PNR data and guides you through the airport without a snag? The possibilities are endless, and in my view, the future is already here.

What new innovations do you see on the travel technology horizon?


  1. Very cool. Like the other commentors above, I love the sub-text of female inventors bringing the future to us.
    I now want to go troll a twitter plonker who opined that there aren’t many modern female inventors…

    1. Cassandra, in fact there are so many women inventors that I could of written an entire book. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Really enjoyed how you “wove” this story of women innovating in technology. Talk about understanding the (reading) user experience! Thanks Alexandra!

  3. Thanks Alexandra, for such an inspirational article highlighting how women are shaping the future through technology. What will be the next frontier in travel technology? I would like to see data analytics to help us trust the mechanics of our plane and the work history of our pilots. Vial of “scented courage” no longer necessary!

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