Aera Is a Smart Fragrance Dispenser That Makes Your Home Smell Beautiful

Scents you can program from your smartphone.

By Dave Johnson

When I first encountered Aera, I rolled my eyes… just a bit. A smart fragrance dispenser–essentially, an air freshener you can control from your phone–struck me as somewhat gratuitous, like a Bluetooth-connected water bottle or a can opener with integrated Wi-fi. (The first one is real, I hope the second one is not.)

After all, does everything need to be connected to everything else in our new Internet of Things age? Does every appliance need to be "smart?"

But then I had an opportunity to try the Aera out. And I found that it’s far from gratuitous. It's wonderful.

Aera Looks Great

Aera is a compact, elegantly styled device that doesn’t look especially out of place on a table, countertop, or mantle, and has just four simple buttons: power, up/down buttons for the strength of the scent, and an eject button to swap the scent capsule.

But honestly, if you use the Aera the way it was intended, you almost never need to touch it. Since it’s connected to your home’s Wi-Fi network, you can use the iOS or Android app to control it from any room in the house–or even when you’re not home at all.

Interchangeable Fragrance Capsules Last a Long Time

A little about the capsules: They currently come in a half dozen standard fragrances and a pair of holiday-inspired special scents. The fragrances have names and descriptions like:

Moondance: Warm and enveloping; with notes of Bergamot, iris and amber.

Odyssey: Crisp and energetic; with notes of citrus, juniper and soft woods.

Celebrations: Warm and inviting; with notes of spices, soft woods and orange zest.

I have been using both Celebrations and Moondance in testing, which means that yes, my home office smells like orange zest. Jealous?

The fragrances are hypoallergenic, doing their magic with just 10 parts per million in the air (reportedly about 100,000 times smaller than aerosol sprays). Aera dispenses its fragrance uniformly, so the scent stays exactly the same over the life of each capsule, and it leave no residue behind anywhere in the room. The manufacturer, Prolitec, says that the liquid “fragrance compounds” work without alcohol or propellants.

Each capsule costs $47–not exactly cheap–but Prolitec claims that each capsule is good for about 1400 hours of use when set to medium intensity. In practical terms, a single capsule lasts for about 2 months.

That’s not bad, especially when you consider that it’ll last even longer if you run it at a lower intensity or for fewer hours each day.

My test unit is currently running about 8 hours a day (split between morning and evening), and after about two weeks of use, the app reports the capsule is 99 percent full.

It Really is Smart

And that’s a really good point–you can run Aera just for the hours you want to with no muss or fuss. It’s easy to set up a schedule for your Aera on your smartphone, so it runs for a few hours in the morning so your home greets you with a beautiful scent when you wake in the morning, and then again when you get home from work.

You can create as many schedules as you like, so it runs on a different timeline each day of the week, or at different times on weekdays and weekend. The app is incredible easy to configure and use, though currently, it frustratingly requires you to log in every single time you open the app. Aera’s developers promise me that’s an issue they will address soon.

One thing I would really like to see added to the simple app, though: the ability to run Aera for a limited time with a tap. You should be able to tell Aera to turn on and run for, say, an hour or two, and turn off again automatically, without setting up a schedule.

Each Aera is capable of covering a fairly broad area—as much as 2000 square feet. But it’s not magical, and in testing, I found it had trouble exerting much influence on rooms down the hall without simultaneously overpowering the immediate vicinity, so it works best in large spaces or in rooms that are connected with a pretty open floorplan and good circulation.

Have a large house or have a floorplan featuring distant rooms connected via hallways? Well, if you have money to burn and a hankering for a really smart home, you can buy more than one Aera. The app works with multiple devices (up to 20!), and each one can be scheduled to operate in concert or independently. They can even be set to run complementary or different scents.

The Price May Give You Pause

And that leads to Aera’s biggest drawback—it costs a formidable $190 for the device with an initial capsule (which, in fairness, means you’re really paying a somewhat more reasonable $140 for the machine itself). That’s a lot, you’re probably thinking, for an air freshener.

But Aera feels like more than just an air freshener. These scents are beautiful, stay consistent over the life of each capsule, and are fully programmable both in intensity and schedule. This is the way robots will someday make their homes smell nice, and it's already available right now for us.

And so far, Aera has proved totally reliable, turning on and off exactly as scheduled and always responding quickly to smartphone commands. If only my smart door lock worked so well.

Want to get a sense of what Aera smells like? You can send away for a fragrance leaflet to sample all the scents before you commit to ordering a device.