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Innovative Barnsley technology company smelling success

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An innovative Barnsley technology company is smelling success with a new product that has already featured at Heathrow Airport.

Osborne Technologies has developed SensoryScent, a device that emits realistic smells that can be used anywhere from a theatre to a care home. So far, the company has a range of more than 400 smells, and has the capacity and innovation to develop more.

The company, which is based at Fall Bank Industrial Estate in Dodworth, makes and sells a wide range of cutting-edge IT and audio visual solutions for education and business, including a visitor management system called EntrySign, interactive teaching software called Tango Teach and SensoryPod, a self-contained multi-sensory facility.

Turnover at the company was £3.5 million last year and is predicted to rise to £5 million this year. In the past three years, the company has gone from 25 to 43 staff and is recruiting more sales staff and looking to take on three apprentices.

Osborne Technologies’ business growth is being supported by Enterprising Barnsley, a European-funded programme delivered by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council.

SensoryScent is Osborne Technologies latest product innovation. The scents are formulated and blended specially in-house to provide realistic aromas. They can be used to add realism to an experience, stimulate memories or add effects to stage and theatre productions.

Kevin Wheatley, sensory specialist at Osborne Technology, said: “Smell is the sense that is strongest linked to memory, so we wanted to develop a device that could evoke a memory or make you think you were somewhere that you weren’t.

“We’ve been demonstrating the device at technology shows up and down the country and people are blown away by it. It’s fast become our number one source of enquiry.”

The device has already been sold for use in Heathrow airport, the Roundhouse Theatre in London and in schools and care homes. It has also been used in London Dungeons.

Kevin said: “The London Dungeons project is very different to what we usually do. We’ve become accustomed to creating pleasant smells, and now we’ve got to do the exact opposite with a rotting corpse version.

“Hopefully, it will create a realistic experience and give visitors an idea of what the dungeons smelt like.”

As part of the project at Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport, travellers in the departure lounge were presented with a giant ‘scent globe’ which emitted aromas from countries including Thailand, South Africa and Brazil.

Other projects include a street bomb scent for schoolchildren learning about the Blitz and a gingerbread house aroma for a Christmas grotto.

The SensoryScent has also been used in care homes to encourage hunger in people with dementia, who have previously not been eating regularly, and to calm others down with familiar scents from their past. 

Osborne Technologies has spent two years developing the idea for SensoryScent.  In that time, the company has taken on Matt Ward as a scent specialist to create all aromas in-house, and has produced five different devices to emit the scents.

Enterprising Barnsley’s John Heckingbottom said: “It’s great to see Osborne Technologies come up with another innovative idea that can be used in rehabilitation, learning environments and visitor attractions.

“The company has come a long way and become somewhat of a local success story. It originally started in founder Tom Osborne’s garage in the early 1990s when he started refurbishing computers. Now they are getting international enquiries and have a list of products as long as my arm.”

Enterprising Barnsley has given Osborne Technologies support with exporting, marketing and management coaching.

Kevin said: “The support we’ve had from Enterprising Barnsley has been amazing and really helped us grow as a business. They have supported us with our exporting, and we now send our products to Australia and the Netherlands, with enquiries from places like Dubai and America.

“Their experience and knowledge on the matter has been invaluable.”

Osborne Technologies also provides products such as CCTV, plasma and LCD screens, projectors, interactive whiteboards, touch-screen technology and an array of computers to suit different needs. The company’s ‘EntrySign’ touch-screen signing-in system, launched in 2010, has been installed in approximately 2,000 UK schools.

The company has won several awards for innovation over the last year and signed up over 40 former competitor businesses as reseller partners.

Enterprising Barnsley is supported financially by the European Union and has attracted £2,259,511 investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development, through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme. 

(l-r) Kevin Wheatley and Matt Ward of Osborne Technologies
Kevin Wheatley and Matt Ward of Osborne Technologies

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