German researchers stick their electronic nose in your smartphone | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 26.04.2018
  1. Inhalt
  2. Navigation
  3. Weitere Inhalte
  4. Metanavigation
  5. Suche
  6. Choose from 30 Languages


German researchers stick their electronic nose in your smartphone

An artificial smeller may soon be nosing around in your smartphone or toaster. German researchers have developed a chip that can give any human nose a run for its money.

It is small enough to be used in smartphones and has the potential to sniff out substances more quickly then its human counterpart.

Researchers from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) are working to get the artificial-nose chip "smelldect" market ready as soon as possible, and are hoping to have a version ready before the end of the year.

Read more:Following their nose: the next generation of perfumers

They say it could help prevent electric fires from burning cables, for example, used in robots as a smoke detector or even sniff out fish and other foods that are about to spoil in the supermarket. 

Small enough for individual use

Electronic noses have been used for decades in the food industry, but KIT's new device is the first one small enough for individual use.

It measures just a few centimeters and consists of a chip made of nanofibers. Once trained, the nose can detect the smell within a few seconds.

"With our electronic nose, the nanofibers react to a complex mix of gases – i.e. smells – and form a pattern of signals that they can recognize," KIT's Martin Sommer told the news agency dpa.

Read more: Scientists discover what Uranus smells like

But the nifty nose is still grappling with the complex world of smells. Sommer explains that often one thing, like a rose for example, can smell differently depending on whether it is wet or dry.

"That's why we are training the nose for specific scenarios at the moment" that can be chosen from a menu to suit the user's needs, Sommer explains.

Watch video 06:33

Dealing with a lost sense of smell

Every evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

DW recommends

WWW links

Audios and videos on the topic