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Portable 'digital nose' can identify just about any smell you throw at it

Unless something has gone very, very wrong, chances are that smell isn’t a sense that you often associate with consumer technology. A French startup named Aryballe Technologies is hoping to change all of that, however.

Spotting a gap in the market in a field populated by increasingly smart devices, Aryballe has developed a “digital nose,” capable of recognizing and measuring odors — as well as storing all such smells in a dedicated database. Called Neose, the mobile device is being shown off at CES, where it’s hoping to impress visitors with its ability to detect up to 350 different smells in around 15 seconds.

To achieve this, it uses patented technology which replicates the working of a human nose using a combination of optical resonance technology, an array of biochemical sensors, cloud database of “odor signatures,” and some smart artificial intelligence-matching algorithms for identification.

According to its creators, Neose’s technology opens up a plethora of possible applications, including better control and monitoring of olfactive pollution in cities, quality control in the food industry, possible integration in future smart fridges and other home appliances, as well as in medical diagnosis, where recent research has emphasized the possibility of “sniffing out” diseases.

In all, it’s pretty neat stuff and could certainly be a useful tool that expands the smart device toolset beyond the seeing, listening, touching and taste senses it’s already got pretty well-covered. According to Aryballe, which was founded in 2014, it’s initially set to introduce its stand-alone Neose Pro device in May or June.

The really exciting possibilities, however, come in the fact that this is a scaleable, transferrable solution, meaning that the company’s core sensor could one day be integrated into third-party devices.

Does this mean our future iPhones could one day tell us that we are smelling things wrong? We guess we will have to wait and see.