Electronic nose on the way

InsideBayArea.com brings us news of an electronic nose coming from UC Berkeley and Nanomix:

” ‘What we like about the concept of the E-Nose is that you can design it and train it through algorithms to go after and detect pretty much anything that can be found in breath,’ said Bradley Johnson, a postdoctoral researcher who is working on the project at Berkeley…By blowing on a device equipped with this chip, the sensors can pick up a pattern of molecules, instantly analyze the characteristics of them and come back with an immediate reading. It’s similar to [how] a nose senses molecules and sends a pattern to the brain, which is then interpreted as a smell.

” ‘It’s really an incredible technology with an endless number of possibilities,’ [David Macdonald, chief executive and president of Nanomix] said.”

Indeed. Initial applications are in medical care, but such sensors could also be used for pollution monitoring, bioweapons detection, drug enforcement — even diet enforcement.

Later in the article: “While there are more than 1,000 companies focused on the science and research aspects of nanotechnology, Nanomix is just one of a handful of companies geared toward development and commercialization.” While it’s true that Nanomix is farther along than many, I think this assertion would surprise those funding or working at nanotech companies. —Christine

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