Electronic NOSES?!

By | November 27, 2023

It sounds like something out of a sci-fi film or an HG Wells novel, doesn’t it?  Of all the futuristic widgets and whatnots that they’ve come up with over the years, I must say I never imagined that noses would ever be involved…

This isn’t the first time that companies have tried to come up with technology for your face, and I doubt that it’ll be the last.  But so far, they’ve always been more focused on the concept of “wearable” tech, a bit like the smart watches that have been around for a few years now.

For example, the idea of “smart glasses” has been floating around for a while – basically a pair of glasses that can take photos and videos, play music to you, even to display your phone messages on the screen.  Google created a set called Google Glass (how imaginative…) but there were concerns about invasions of privacy, since you could easily take photos of people without them realising, so they were discontinued.

Meta (the parent company of Facebook) have also joined the trend, teaming up with Ray-Bans to make fancy smart sunglasses.  Their version also includes an AI “assistant” (a bit like “Siri” or “Alexa”) who can answer any burning questions you might have, as long as you don’t mind the funny looks people will probably give you if you’re talking to yourself, or rather to your sunglasses.

Whilst I can admire the ingenuity of such a thing, I’m not sure I entirely see the point, especially at $300 a pair for something so fragile.  We had a running joke in our family about how every time we went on holiday, my stepdad would end up breaking his sunnies by sitting on them or dropping them.

The one year that he made it back home with all 4 pairs intact, we’d barely touched the tarmac in England when he managed to drop his cabin bag, complete with a glass bottle of duty-free booze, which of course smashed to bits and took out all 4 pairs at once!  And those were just the cheap, serviceable pairs from the beach shop – imagine if they’d been fancy ones.

But enough about glasses, what’s all this about noses?  Well, some tech wizards have developed so-called “electronic noses” in an attempt to increase food safety and hygiene.  These ones aren’t really “wearable” though, although it’s probably only a matter of time before someone comes up with a prototype…

Effectively it’s a high tech sensor that can detect specific smells caused by bacteria such as salmonella or e coli.  These bacteria apparently give off a unique electrical signal which these “e-noses” can detect, which would then be flagged up by the software.

The idea is that rather than sending samples off to a lab for testing, and then waiting a number of days for the results to come back, food producers could use these sensors to check their supplies themselves, and then find out within an hour if any of their produce is infected.  They can also apparently tell how fresh food is, which is useful for things that don’t have a clear “best before” date.  Hopefully, this would lead to fewer cases of food poisoning and less unnecessary food waste.

These e-noses aren’t in widespread use yet, but I do look forward to the day that we get a high-tech version of those fake noses with glasses attached that you can buy from joke shops.  Maybe they’ll come up with an e-nose that can help with blocked noses over the winter period – although that might just be wishful thinking, as I’ve had this stubborn cold for a few days now…

One thought on “Electronic NOSES?!

  1. Robert Haydock

    Thankyou for your New Year Wishes.
    Electronic Noses
    I am the talks organiser for Lancashire County Unison Retired Members and after reading the information about Electronic Noses wondered whether you would be able to give a talk on that subject for about one hour. The County have a big white screen in each room and a place to connect laptops or memory sticks as an aid to a talk.
    We are able to pay you a fee for the talk and also your travelling expenses .
    County Hall at Preston is almost directly opposite the County Hall from the railway station. We also have reserved car parking spaces for those travelling in a vehicle.
    Best Wishes and a Happy New Year
    Robert Haydock.


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