Next Monday 18 March, I will be convening a workshop at the Oxford Internet Institute, speaking with three professionals who have made their livings manipulating fear, sound and smell. How do these masters of the senses design their products to get us to feel, see and do what they want us to?

The drive to digital is everywhere, with announcements daily from newspapers and publishers, government departments and retailers stating that their strategy is now “digital first”. But in terms of genuine user engagement are digital channels those which most inspire behavioural change? What alternatives are proving captivating? How much can we draw from current experimentation here in offline areas too?


John Wardley, creative engineer behind some of the most terrifying roller coasters in the world – including the award-winning Nemesis at Alton Towers, describes how he immerses riders through physical motion.

Odette Toilette (aka Lizzie Ostrum), the curator of the London-based Scratch+Sniff events and creator of the Design Council/Department of Health’s Ode scent machine, describes how olfaction can get people to do things without realising why they’re doing them.

Nick Ryan, the Bafta-winning sound artist behind iPhone game Papa Sangre and who has recently collaborated with Imogen Heap on her single Propeller Seeds, and on her forthcoming album and with Plan B on his recent film, describes how he uses 3D sound to get people to move in new directions.

The videos will be up by Monday on the project

The workshop – Changing Behaviour: Participation, Influence and Impact – is a co-production with BBC veteran Lisa Sargood (also of the OII), myself and BBC Future’s Head of Audiences Helen Goodier. Their sessions are super cool too! Check ’em out here, and sign up!