The first perfumes designed by AI are slated for launch in mid-2019 in Brazil. Developed at IBM, in partnership with perfume company Symrise, the AI programme used drew upon a database of 1.7m different fragrance formulas, and used information on raw materials and the success of previously developed perfumes. It was also taught to identify which fragrances people found similar and dissimilar – getting training akin to an apprentice perfumer.

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Called Philyra, after the Greek goddess of fragrance, the AI programme developed two new fragrances for Brazilian beauty company O Boticário. 

‘What she did was super innovative. She had a sweet warm background, but added cardamom-like Indian cuisine scents and a milk that came from the flavour department,’ says David Apel, Senior Perfumer with Symrise. ‘From 1.7m formulas, it is amazing for her to find something that hadn’t been done before.’

Using AI to create new fragrances. Video: IBM Research

In a demonstration at IBM Research in Zurich, Switzerland, computational researcher Richard Goodwin demonstrated how Philyra is able to scan 1,000 different formulations, and over 60 raw materials, and compare them with fragrances currently on the marketplace. It is possible to request a certain type of perfume and adjust its novelty.