Skip to main content

‘Artificial nose’ sensors can sniff gases to identify ripe foods before they go bad

C2Sense tiny artificial nose sensor
Jan Schnorr/C2Sense
Are you kind of person who ends up with overripe fruit in your grocery store basket, but don’t realize it until you get your haul back to the kitchen? Well not to worry — there’s an “artificial nose” technology in the works that would allow users to detect the effects of ripening produce, and change the way we shop for food forever. This newly-developed sensor would sniff out food ripeness, empower sellers to move products at peak deliciousness, and put an end to overripe avocados once and for all.

Developed by C2Sense, the technology behind the “artificial nose” allows sensors to detect ethylene, an odorous gas that is released naturally as produce ripens. The more ethylene a fruit gives off, the more quickly it ripens, which means that the process from ripe to spoiled is expedited exponentially. Etheylene sensors aren’t new in and of themselves, and until now they have worked in largely the same way a home carbon monoxide detector or smoke alarm does. C2Sense’s ethylene detector technology is the first that is inexpensive enough to see a future in the mass market.

A chemical reaction takes place within an electric circuit in C2Sense’s affordable sensor, so that as ethylene molecules increase in number throughout the ripening process, the electrical current in the sensor is interrupted and the change in conductivity can be measured. Once the sensors are ready for mass production, they will become a part of the overall food process that the western world so often takes for granted. Wholesalers will be able to stock produce packaged with C2Sense chip labels, and will be able to manage the sale of fruits and vegetables at peak ripeness. Customers will be able to scan produce labels for ripeness from a simple smart phone app. Even restaurant owners and chefs will be able to manage food storage to make the most of their kitchen resources before food goes bad.

C2Sense is the startup behind the artificial nose, but the science originally came out of MIT and research conducted by chemistry PhD candidate Jan Schnorr. In October, C2Sense was granted $350,000 in research funds from Breakout Labs, a philanthropic organization that aims to support scientists in transitioning from lab research to commercial endeavors. Ultimately, Schnorr and C2Sense hope to use the artificial nose technology to create sensor chips so small and affordable that they could be embedded in food packaging or built into grocery store produce bags.

Further applications of the C2Sense technology are already in development to detect gases other than ethylene, including ammonia and the amines released by meat products. C2Sense estimates that global food waste has a direct economic cost of $750 billion per year. The ethylene sensing system they have developed into their artificial nose technology could seriously curtail the social, political, and economic problems that threaten the world’s population thanks to wasted food around the globe.

Chloe Olewitz
Chloe is a writer from New York with a passion for technology, travel, and playing devil's advocate. You can find out more…
Digital Trends’ Top Tech of CES 2023 Awards
Best of CES 2023 Awards Our Top Tech from the Show Feature

Let there be no doubt: CES isn’t just alive in 2023; it’s thriving. Take one glance at the taxi gridlock outside the Las Vegas Convention Center and it’s evident that two quiet COVID years didn’t kill the world’s desire for an overcrowded in-person tech extravaganza -- they just built up a ravenous demand.

From VR to AI, eVTOLs and QD-OLED, the acronyms were flying and fresh technologies populated every corner of the show floor, and even the parking lot. So naturally, we poked, prodded, and tried on everything we could. They weren’t all revolutionary. But they didn’t have to be. We’ve watched enough waves of “game-changing” technologies that never quite arrive to know that sometimes it’s the little tweaks that really count.

Read more
Digital Trends’ Tech For Change CES 2023 Awards
Digital Trends CES 2023 Tech For Change Award Winners Feature

CES is more than just a neon-drenched show-and-tell session for the world’s biggest tech manufacturers. More and more, it’s also a place where companies showcase innovations that could truly make the world a better place — and at CES 2023, this type of tech was on full display. We saw everything from accessibility-minded PS5 controllers to pedal-powered smart desks. But of all the amazing innovations on display this year, these three impressed us the most:

Samsung's Relumino Mode
Across the globe, roughly 300 million people suffer from moderate to severe vision loss, and generally speaking, most TVs don’t take that into account. So in an effort to make television more accessible and enjoyable for those millions of people suffering from impaired vision, Samsung is adding a new picture mode to many of its new TVs.
[CES 2023] Relumino Mode: Innovation for every need | Samsung
Relumino Mode, as it’s called, works by adding a bunch of different visual filters to the picture simultaneously. Outlines of people and objects on screen are highlighted, the contrast and brightness of the overall picture are cranked up, and extra sharpness is applied to everything. The resulting video would likely look strange to people with normal vision, but for folks with low vision, it should look clearer and closer to "normal" than it otherwise would.
Excitingly, since Relumino Mode is ultimately just a clever software trick, this technology could theoretically be pushed out via a software update and installed on millions of existing Samsung TVs -- not just new and recently purchased ones.

Read more
AI turned Breaking Bad into an anime — and it’s terrifying
Split image of Breaking Bad anime characters.

These days, it seems like there's nothing AI programs can't do. Thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence, deepfakes have done digital "face-offs" with Hollywood celebrities in films and TV shows, VFX artists can de-age actors almost instantly, and ChatGPT has learned how to write big-budget screenplays in the blink of an eye. Pretty soon, AI will probably decide who wins at the Oscars.

Within the past year, AI has also been used to generate beautiful works of art in seconds, creating a viral new trend and causing a boon for fan artists everywhere. TikTok user @cyborgism recently broke the internet by posting a clip featuring many AI-generated pictures of Breaking Bad. The theme here is that the characters are depicted as anime characters straight out of the 1980s, and the result is concerning to say the least. Depending on your viewpoint, Breaking Bad AI (my unofficial name for it) shows how technology can either threaten the integrity of original works of art or nurture artistic expression.
What if AI created Breaking Bad as a 1980s anime?
Playing over Metro Boomin's rap remix of the famous "I am the one who knocks" monologue, the video features images of the cast that range from shockingly realistic to full-on exaggerated. The clip currently has over 65,000 likes on TikTok alone, and many other users have shared their thoughts on the art. One user wrote, "Regardless of the repercussions on the entertainment industry, I can't wait for AI to be advanced enough to animate the whole show like this."

Read more