Skip to main content

This artificial ‘nose on a chip’ can sniff out wine, coffee, and noxious gas

The sights and sounds of CES are the things that get most breathlessly reported on, but for anyone who’s ever crammed into the Las Vegas Convention Center with thousands of other sweaty tech fans (or lined up to use its restrooms), the smells can be a pretty memorable part of it, too.

Things are a bit different at this year’s all-virtual CES. However, German startup SmartNanotubes Technologies is on hand (at least, via cyberspace) to make sure that olfactory senses are well represented. The innovative startup has created what it calls the Small Inspector, a multichannel smell-detection chip that could be used to give your home’s smart devices a sensitive schnozz.

The Smell iX16 chip can reportedly be baked into Internet of Things systems and smart home devices, alongside single-board computers such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi. It can sniff out gases including ammonia, nitrogen monoxide, phosphine, carbon dioxide, water vapor, ethanol, acetone, toluene, and isopropanol, along with odors such as chocolate, wine, vodka, tea and coffee, onions, bananas, meat, and fish. If you ever dreamed of your mood lighting smart light setup advising you that you might also want to open a window to clear the smell of last night’s takeout before your date comes over… well, you may have come to the right place.

Smell Inspector
SmartNanotubes Technologies

In reality, of course, the Smell iX16 is going to be most useful in areas like food control, hazard prevention, and the health sector. Nonetheless, it’s fascinating to imagine some of the more consumer-facing settings where the smell version of Shazam could play a role.

There’s still a bit more work to do, though. The company will be launching its sniff chip in February on Kickstarter. The goal of this will be to build a “functional and comprehensive database for smells,” ranging “from food to farming, [and] cosmetics to construction.” This will require at least 1,000 active users willing to participate. Backers will receive a ready-to-use developer kit and access to the A.I. software and smell database.

Compared to conventional gas sensors, SmartNanotubes Technologies promises that its chip is more sensitive, smaller, and energy efficient, and can be made more cheaply and in larger quantities. What could smell sweeter than that?

Editors' Recommendations

Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
Got poop? Toto’s Wellness Toilet promises health advice based on poop analysis
The Toto Wellness Toilet would analyze your diet through your bowel movements.

Poop is often forgotten the moment it is flushed down the toilet, but Toto intends on making you more informed about your stools with a neat concept device that is being planned for the consumer market in the next several years. At CES 2021, Toto announced a slew of new touchless bathroom technology to help keep your home cleaner and more hygienic -- along with the health-analyzing Wellness Toilet concept that will analyze your poop.

Related Reading:

Read more
TP-Link’s new Kasa mesh router doubles as an Alexa smart speaker
tp link launches kasa mesh router smart speaker ces 2021 deco voice x20

TP-Link has long had its claws in the smart home world through devices like the Kasa Outdoor Smart Plug, but now the company has announced a brand-new lineup of new smart devices at CES 2021.

The most interesting announcement from Kasa is the Deco Voice X20, a combination mesh router and smart speaker all in one. It features Alexa functionality baked right into the device while delivering Wi-Fi 6 to every corner of your home. The Deco Voice X20 also provides powerful IoT security and robust parental controls.

Read more
Twinkly expands its dazzling smart light lineup with bendable lights and more
twinkly expands its lineup year round use ces 2021 flex 1 of 2

Twinkly has dominated the holiday smart light market for several years, but now the company has announced smart lights intended for year-round use at CES 2021. We're certainly excited for this new endeavor considering how dazzling its lights are versus those of its competitors.

The new lineup primarily includes indoor lights that work great for mood lighting and can be controlled through Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. Twinkly is following the pattern of companies like Philips Hue and LIFX of creating an atmosphere through lighting.

Read more