18 Apr '18
Scientists at the Higher School of Economics (HSE) in Moscow have developed and patented a device that can identify smells. With neural network technology at its core, the device is also said to be able to “remember” new odors.
Gas sensors are no news to the market; however, most of what’s currently available can sniff out a single odor. In an interview last year Vladimir Kulagin, the team leader, underscored the danger of having such a narrowly focused e-nose and pointed out the necessity to use ones that can identify both quantitative and qualitative compositions of gas mixtures:
“For example, miners have methane sensors, and as soon as the gas appears, the sensors alert the miners to the danger. But what if a mixture of gases comes into the mine? That’s where problems arise; the sensors will single out methane from the mixture and “overlook” other gases—a situation where it’s exactly a mixture, not a single gas, that is responsible for human casualties.”
The product that came from HSE’s Space Research Lab for Technology, Systems and Processes is reported to show high accuracy in identifying substances. The way the device operates can be likened to the function of the real living nose that can remember new odors and easily pinpoint them as soon as they feel them again.
The new device is said to “catch” an odor and, if it does not know it yet, artificial intelligence sets to work to look in its database for an odor that is as near as possible to that new one found, and also save this new odor in the database.
Using the e-nose could help a lot during environmental monitoring or in the aftermath of some man-induced disasters. Other applications may include safeguarding people and projects against terrorists.