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Tech firms sniff out smell 'holy grail'

Thursday, June 23, 2016 - 01:46

For more than a decade, tech developers have been working towards harnessing the power of smell for apps and devices. As Graham Mackay reports, it's one thing to get your phone to produce an aroma, but enabling it to sniff things out for itself is a whole other kettle of fish.

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Your phone might be able to detect sound, light and motion But so far...it can't smell If it could, that would open up new horizons... Experts say smelling devices could sniff out the early stages of a disease... or fear in a potential terrorist. It's a goal companies have chased for over a decade. Most have failed SOUNDBITE (English), REUTERS TECHNOLOGY EDITOR, JEREMY WAGSTAFF, SAYING: "There's a reason that making smelling devices is so hard. Unlike the two other airborne sensations, light and sound....scent is not energy...it's mass - and is hugely complex - The aroma of coffee, for example, consists of more than 600 components. A smelling device would need a different censor for each odor - making them bulky and limited in what they can do." That hasn't stopped some from trying Entrepreneur Tristran Rouselle recently showed off his prototype, called the NeOse... a hand-held device he says will be able to detect up to 50 common odours. But given that we can detect several thousand smells...that's only a start I found most of the smell start-ups out there are either starting small…. or focusing on industries that don't care about portability. SOUNDBITE (English), REUTERS TECHNOLOGY EDITOR, JEREMY WAGSTAFF, SAYING: "Other companies are focussing not on detecting smells, but delivering smells, like this one, the sorano, which uses these small capsules, to deliver smells guided by your phone." But the holy grail is still a device that can smell... detecting food that's off, or a gas leak or a scent we love and want to recreate at home. One day your phone may be able to do all that.... although researchers say it's still maybe a decade away.

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Tech firms sniff out smell 'holy grail'

Thursday, June 23, 2016 - 01:46