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New chip gives nose to smartphones

Apple Maps on iPhone 5 running iOS 6

Computers have advanced a lot. Few decades back it was just a machine that was used to calculate numbers, but today these machines are able to do a lot more than that. Computers can do things with great accuracy, better than humans for that matter, but they can do only things which we program them to do. The speculation is that soon computers will be able to do things on their own, and some of the robots designed by various firms are able to act somewhat humanly. Anyways, they cannot think like humans, and they can’t smell either, but if we take a look at the newest innovation in the industry, computers will be indeed be able to smell.

Talking of phones, or smartphone to be exact, they have the ability to see (camera), hear (mic) and feel (accelerometer or gyroscope), and the only thing remaining is smell and taste, and a tiny San Francisco startup, Adamant Technologies, is trying to give your iPhone the senses of smell and taste, too. They were adamant about their aim to give nose to computers and seems like they have reached their goal. According to the reports, the company has managed to create a computer chip that functions with help from bunch of tiny sensors that “can take the sense of smell and taste and digitize them,” explains Sam Khamis, Adamant’s founder and CEO.

So how can we use this new chip? Well, it’s not about turning your smartphone into a scratch-and-sniff device, but it will definitely allow medical equipment or computers to smell on their own and use the values to process a final result. Having a computer smell can be tricky, though we have sensors that can identify variety of chemicals lurking in the air, but when you mix several of them, we get a confused computer. An average human nose has 400 tiny “sensors” which identify various chemicals in the air and feed the input to the brain, which will finally identify the smell based on complex calculations. Human brain is very clever, but same doesn’t hold good for computer processors, and hence Adamant has put 2,000 sensors on the chip, which is equivalent to number of natural sensors present in a dog’s nose, and we know dogs are very popular for their sharp nose.

The company is backed by venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, who is known to invest in companies which aim to do something unique. The San Francisco based company is planning to manufacture a consumer device that plugs directly into an iPhone, and there will be apps which will be able to take inputs from the connected device and deliver results. The apps could be something like bad breath tracking or your iPhone may be even be able to check the alcohol levels in your breath and determine whether you should drive or not. The company is aiming to have the device retail under $100 mark.

The possibilities of this sensor are vast. What are your thoughts on this?

via BusinessInsider