The Massachusetts-based company C2Sense has invented an artificial nose that can give computers a sense of smell, according to Wired. The device detects ethylene gas, which is the chemical released as foods spoil, and it does so to a degree that it can detect amounts that the human nose cannot.
Food spoilage can be contagious due to the release of ethylene. When one food begins to spoil, the ethylene gas released makes its way to other foods and stimulates more spoilage, initiating a vicious cycle of rotting food. By detecting ethylene, users of the device can remove rotting foods and avoid this cycle.
C2Sense hopes that its device will eventually be used by restaurants and food banks in order to detect ripening fruit and remove them from the vicinity of other fruits before ethylene is released and causes more ripening, according to CBS. However, the company claims that the pricing will be affordable enough to also be a viable option for those who simply want something in their home to prevent food from rotting.
The artificial nose is not something completely new — some companies have been developing them for other uses, including disease diagnosis in situations where other methods are too expensive for the patient, according to the Guardian.