Originating from a bachelor’s thesis, the novel Air Up scent-flavored hydration system comprises a custom-engineered, refillable water bottle and flavor pods that transmit flavor through scent, for a zero-calorie, zero-sugar beverage without additives. In June 2022, Air Up expanded beyond its European roots, launching in the U.S., with support from investors that include PepsiCo, Ashton Kutcher, and Guy Oseary.
“The idea for Air Up first formed in 2016 when my co-founder, Tim Jäger, and I were working on our bachelor’s thesis, ‘Neuroscience meets Design,’ analyzing one of the greatest social problems of our time: unhealthy nutrition,” relays Air Up co-founder and Chief Evangelist Lena Jüngst. “We knew hydration was essential for supporting our overall health and wellbeing, and most of us vastly underestimate how much we actually need. In fact, according to the National Library of Medicine, 75% of Americans remain chronically dehydrated. With Air Up, we saw an opportunity to inspire change and delight the world with revolutionary and exciting scent-based taste experiences.”
According to Jüngst, just 20% of what we perceive as taste comes from our taste buds; approximately 80% actually comes from our olfactory receptors, where the brain interprets scents as flavor (as opposed to smell). Science calls this concept “retronasal smell,” which, in layman’s terms, translates to tasting with the nose. The Air Up system transports the pod’s scents through the mouth, triggering said effect—so the body sips plain water, while the brain “tastes” flavor.