Coming soon: An ‘electronic nose' app for smartphones

Press Trust of India London | Updated on November 15, 2017

Coming soon: An “electronic nose” application for smart phones which could help doctors diagnose an illness by analysing a person's breath, say scientists.

A team at the California Institute of Technology, led by chemistry professor Nate Lewis, is trialling the technology what they call “sensory vapour technology” which could detect odours like the human nose.

The aim is to manufacture a smart phone attachment that works when used in conjunction with an “electronic nose app”, the ‘Daily Mail' reported.

The scientists hope their research will result in an affordable, easy-to-carry detection system, ideally an advanced smartphone application.

Team member Heather McCaig said: “A doctor could carry around their smart phone and have patients breathe into a little attachment and be able to tell they have a communicable disease like tuberculosis. “You wouldn't need to send samples off to a lab, you would immediately be able to start treatment. This would have a huge impact on people's lives.”

The detection system works by pushing a stream of air through a liquid, such as butanol, which results in bubbles that come up as a saturated vapour. This is then diluted and fed to a sensor chamber where the vapour is analysed and turned into raw data, say the scientists.

From this data, the scientists are able to work out the chemicals contained in the initial stream of “air”.

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Published on May 13, 2012
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