E nose biotech sensor to replace Bomb-sniffing Dogs
MEET THE E-NOSE THAT ACUALLY SNIFFS, These E noses are sensors, made up of genetically modified living cells.
During boarding process for international flight, you’ve most likely saw formidable bomb-sniffing dogs at security. But, Once you’re on the plane, as the dogs aren’t typically coming for the ride, the safety and detection virtually ends at the security gate.
To bridge this gap, aircraft manufacturer Airbus has tied up with the biotech startup Koniku and have build a passive solution: an electronic nose. This E-Nose’could be installed airport indoors or on virtually any inside surface of an aircraft cabin.
The founder of start up Koniku, Mr Oshiorenoya Agabi, told our correspondent that they modify either HEK cells (kidney stem cells) or astrocytes (star-shaped brain cells) to have olfactory receptors that can identify compounds by smell.
Julien Touzeau, head of product security for Airbus America, said that this kind of novel technology can ease the stress on security personnel and pooches. By replacing bomb-sniffing dogs we can save time and money as its expensive to teach dogs as they are trained to what they smell and alert. Why not free them a little and use for other specific task? asked Julien. Additionally, the technology hope to extend the use cases to biological hazards, including diseases like COVID-19 (coronavirus).
Creating such E nose scent analyzers is so difficult to make because unlike light and sound, scent is made up of mass, not energy.
To tackle this problem, Koniku’s jellyfish-looking sensors can analyze the smell’s molecular structure to see if the scent matches the makeup of certain explosives, chemicals, or bio hazards. The sensor is based on the binding of molecules onto the surface of a cell, looking for the known molecules present in explosives, and when they respond to living cells inside the device, it can ID a match and trigger a kind of cascade of events. The sensor can track this usually within 10 seconds or less. An algorithm then quickly sends the sensed data to a security operations team for further action.
Imagine these sensor systems deployed with hundreds of sensors working together in sync to actively tracking each passenger or pieces of luggage showing signs of explosives, all throughout the airport, amazing!. If one E nose detects the presence of an explosive molecule, the next sensor would pick up on the same within 10 seconds, and so on.
Originally, the collaboration aimed to develop the new biotech sensor for con tactless and automated chemical and explosives detection, but in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the research team is extending its applications to also include identification of communicable diseases.
- OTHER HIGHLIGHTS
- Earlier, efforts to create successful smart sensors specializing in detecting smells have utterly failed.
- Alpha MOS in France was the first firm to make E noses, but within a year its U.S.based arm, BOYD SENSE, went dark.
- In 2013, Adamant Technologies claimed to build a device that could measure a user’s health from their breath. This firm has also gone quiet.
- Researchers earlier have built a sensitive electronic nose that can detect pesticides and nerve gas in very low concentrations, an advance which may help screen someone’s breath for lung cancer and multiple sclerosis (MS) for instance.
On quoting the same, Koniku says its hopeful it can begin testing at two major airports in the U.S. and Asia by the end 2020. If the collaboration really do manage to get this e-nose off the ground and into the air, it could significantly augment security teams in U.S. airports.