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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Technology Update

Air Date: Week of

Cynthia Graber reports that scientists have created hand-held “noses” to recognize and analyze different smells.


GRABER: Scientists have been trying for years to develop a machine that mimics the human nose. They've come up with a few models, but they're all too big to carry around. Now, two companies have unveiled hand-held devices that can detect smells even our noses might otherwise miss. One, the Cyranose, can recognize up to 200 different odors. Right now it's marketed for use in the food and beverage industry. But one day, you might find it at the site of chemical spills or other places where environmental contaminants need to be quickly identified. Meanwhile, the Department of Energy's Sandia Lab has introduced a portable device that can recognize vapors and analyze minute amounts of liquid. Today it can identify agents of biological and chemical terrorism. Researchers expect future uses to include finding land mines, detecting pollutants, and even diagnosing medical conditions. And that's this week's Living on Earth technology update. I'm Cynthia Graber.

CURWOOD: Thanks, Cynthia. It's 19 minutes past the hour.



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