Electronic noses (e-noses) — devices designed to detect odors — are not the sort of thing a hobbyist is likely to have in their spare parts box. Complex and expensive, they are found in industrial and academic research applications. This is something that a company called SmartNanotubes Technologies wants to change.
SmartNanotubes Technologies is launching a Kickstarter campaign in February to produce what they describe as the world’s first smell detector chip for the mass market. The Smell Inspector device contains a Smell iX16 multi-channel gas detector chip that makes use of fine-tuned nanomaterials as the sensor elements. The manufacturer claims that their nanomaterial sensor technology is able to detect gasses in the parts per billion range, and with 100 times greater sensitivity than other technologies.
The pattern of odors detected by the chip are compared against a database of known scent patterns. Using an artificial intelligence algorithm, device observations are compared with this database to search for matches. It is also possible to forgo the database lookups and capture raw sensor output for custom applications.
Smell iX16 is able to detect ammonia, nitrogen monoxide, phosphine, carbon dioxide, water vapor, ethanol, acetone, toluene, and isopropanol gases. Detectable scents include chocolate, wine, vodka, tea and coffee, onions, bananas, meat, and fish. These capabilities make Smell iX16 a candidate for environmental and security applications, home and industrial safety, wearables, and IoT lifestyle products.
The device is compatible with the popular, maker-friendly Arduino and Raspberry Pi development platforms. For those wanting a more ready-to-use out of the box solution, the Smell Annotator software tool supports viewing, annotating, and storing sensor measurements, and also performs scent recognition.
There is no word yet on cost, but SmartNanotubes Technologies is promising that it will be “affordable.” If you want to be one of the first to find out how they define that term, you can sign up to be notified when the Kickstarter campaign goes live.