Aryballe Technologies, a French tech supplier in fields where things are supposed to smell nice — food and cosmetics — is turning its nose to things that probably don't — like a rental car.
Aryballe has been recruited from the smell-good world to tackle vehicle odors, particularly in the growing world of fleets and ride-sharing vehicles.
The company is developing a sensor to identify errant vehicle smells. The detection system could zero in on a lingering smell from under the passenger seat or a scent arising from the engine compartment. Or it might detect that the last driver of a shared no-smoking ride was smoking cigars.
The company's pitch to automakers at WCX, SAE International's annual conference this month in Detroit, is that its smell sensor would be placed in a vehicle's interior to scan for scents and even detect their origin, alerting owners when there's a problem, or helping fleets stay fresh.
In the case of rental car fleets or shared vehicles, the sensors would be able to tell if an occupant had been smoking or if something was spilled in the back seat.
"We received demand from car fleets and manufactures who are putting cars on the streets and getting bad feedback from consumers because the vehicles were very dirty," Tristan Rousselle, Aryballe founder and deputy CEO, told Automotive News.
"Just like when you rent [through] an Airbnb," he said. "You want to know if something forbidden was done. You want to know what the customers do, especially when it's a bad odor, which is a real nuisance."
Aryballe was formed in 2014 to work with the food industry. It was first approached about a vehicle smell-detection application by potential auto industry customers at CES in 2018, Rousselle said. Those conversations led to a project with a French automaker, which he declined to name. The Japanese home and medical products supplier Asahi Kasei Corp. is an investor in the company.