No need for the sniff test with this sensor that detects spoiled food

spoil sport this sensor pings your smartphone when food goes bad spoilage rfid
We’ve all been there: standing in front of the fridge, staring at a Tupperware container, afraid to sniff the contents in case they’ve gone bad. A new technology hopes to make that trepidation a thing of the past.

Chemists at MIT have created cheap sensors that detect gases, from the hazardous to the heinous, including hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, and more. Not only are the sensors affordable, they don’t require a lot of maintenance. “There’s no wiring involved, there’s no power, “ MIT Chemistry Professor Timothy Swager tells MIT News.

That longevity, coupled with the sensors’ ability to communicate with smartphones, means there are lots of possibilities for the sensors. Made from modified near-field communication tags, known as CARDs, they run on the power they draw from devices that read them, including smartphones.

Researchers cut the electrical circuit in the RFID tags, then re-completed the circuit by drawing a wire with a pencil. Instead of graphite, the pencil is made from a carbon-nanotube-based material programmed to detect a certain chemical. When the chemical is present, it changes the current. A smartphone is then able to read the sensor and determine if the chemical is in the air.

The researchers envision their CARDs will become a part of “smart packaging” to detect food spoilage, monitor gas exposure levels in manufacturing plants, and help doctors diagnose diseases.

A recent winner of the UK James Dyson Award, the Bump Mark, similarly helps detect food spoilage. The food label decays along with the food inside the package, signaling whether its safe to eat. The labels are also still in the prototype phase, but it’s heartening to know there’s a lot of interest in decreasing the amount of food wasted around the world each year. For now, you’ll just have to rely on old-fashioned techniques (is it moldy?) to determine if your leftovers are still safe to eat.

Product Review

Traeger’s Timberline smoker starts to get smart, but isn't ready to graduate

Renowned for its line of wood pellet grills, Traeger has taken its game to the next level with the Timberline 850 Wi-Fi-controlled grill. Just how smart is this smoker? Read our review.

These point-and-shoot cameras make your smartphone pics look like cave paintings

If your smartphone camera just isn't giving you the results you're looking for, maybe it's time to step up your game. The latest and greatest point-and-shoot cameras offer large sensors, tough bodies, and long lenses - something no phone…

Bigger isn’t always better: 5 of the smallest smartphones worth buying

Phones are getting larger and larger, but what options exist for the small-of-hand, or people who just want a phone they can use one-handed? In a world of phablets, some of the smallest smartphones can still pack a punch.

Express yourself with our handy guide on how to make emoji

Emoji rule the world these days, but no matter how many are out there, there's always room for one more. Here's how to make an emoji of your own, so you can express yourself without relying on Unicode.
Smart Home

Don’t put plastic containers in microwave or dishwasher, new research says

The study advises people against microwaving food in plastic containers or placing plastic containers in the dishwasher, as these habits can cause the plastic material to release harmful chemicals.

TP-Link smart plugs are on sale for just $16 on Amazon right now

Did you know there is a way to make just about any plug-in device a smart device? It's called a TP-Link smart plug, and for a limited time, you can pick one up for just $16 on Amazon and Walmart.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robo sidekicks, AC for your bed, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Product Review

Samsung DW80M9 Chef Collection dishwasher review

Samsung aims to change the dishwasher game with its newest model, the DW80M9 Chef Collection model featuring Samsung’s WaterWall technology. But it’s the thoughtful design elements that really make this dishwasher stand out.
Smart Home

Put away that sponge and let us help you pick the best dishwasher for your buck

Tired of doing dishes by hand? Take a look at our picks of the four best dishwashers currently available and let a machine do the dirty work for you. They’ll do a much better job, anyway.
Smart Home

Amazon to launch Alexa in Mexico later this year, following June debut in France

After successful launches in Germany, Japan and India, Amazon launched its Alexa-enabled Echo devices in France in June with localized features. Alexa will launch in Mexico later this year.
Smart Home

Samsung SmartThings adds A.I.-based Wi-Fi for faster, smarter home networking

Samsung introduced the SmartThings Wifi, an A.I.-based multifunction mesh networking router with an integrated smart home hub. The device intelligently allocates network speed and bandwidth based on device and application needs.
Smart Home

White-hat Chinese hackers turn Alexa into a spy, briefly

A team of Chinese researchers revealed this week that they were able to use a cracked Amazon Echo to exploit a series of Alexa interface flaws to take control over an unteuched Echo running on the same network.
Smart Home

Get the support you deserve at work in one of the best office chairs

Sitting at the office all day can be tough on more than just your back. Check out our picks for the best office chairs, whether you're in the market for something basic or a bit more luxurious.
Emerging Tech

Be a master of your own ever-changing ‘galaxy’ with this kinetic wall art

Art Machine is a stunning work of kinetic art that looks like a continuously swirling galaxy or turbulent weather formation viewed through a ship's porthole. Check it out in all its glory.