Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Smell

Scientists have grafted olfactory receptors onto carbon nanotubes, in a step towards produ...

While people may have laughed at the mechanical-nose-bearing Odoradar device that Elmer Fudd once used to track Bugs Bunny, the development of real devices that can "smell" recently took a step forward, as researchers from the University of Pennsylvania grafted olfactory receptor proteins onto carbon nanotubes. These proteins are ordinarily located on the outer membrane of cells within the nose. When chemicals that enter the nose bind with the proteins, a cellular response is triggered, that leads to the perception of smell. It is hoped that a synthetic version of that same response could be possible, within sensing devices incorporating the nanotubes.  Read More

A London designer has created a sweating robotic armpit, intended to make it easier for hu...

When we think of robots, we tend to think of clean, antiseptic automatons that don’t suffer from yucky things like halitosis, flatulence or body odor ... unlike us humans. According to London designer Kevin Grennan, however, this difference alienates us from robots, and will keep us from ever fully accepting them as anything other than machines. His solution? Robots that secret human odors, in situations in which people would secrete those odors. While some of his odor-secreting devices are purely conceptual, he has produced a working model of at least one – a sweating robotic armpit.  Read More

Jacobs School of Engineering researchers have developed a proof of concept device that can...

So far as television goes, we're pretty spoilt these days. We can now watch in 3D if we want to, on a screen that is far too big for the once traditional corner-of-the-room placement, and we can also listen to heart-stopping surround sound audio - but there's still more sensory enjoyment to come. Researchers have now managed to create a proof of concept Smell-o-Vision device potentially capable of pumping out thousands of different odors, yet small enough to fit behind a TV.  Read More

A chemist has developed an 'artificial nose' system, that can identify infectious bacteria...

Being able to quickly confirm the presence of infectious bacteria in a patient’s bloodstream, and then identifying the specific species and strain, can make the difference between life and death for that patient. While traditional detection and identification methods are fairly accurate, they can also take too long to perform. A chemist from the University of Illinois, however, has developed an inexpensive new system that is much quicker – and it works by sniffing out the harmful bacteria.  Read More

Copper-coated nanoparticles have been shown to be up to twice as effective as activated ca...

Nanotechnology has made huge advances possible in a variety of scientific fields, but the average non-scientist may particularly appreciate one of its latest applications – eliminating foul odors. In recent tests conducted by scientists from the University of Florida, copper-coated silica nanoparticles were shown to be up to twice as effective as activated carbon for neutralizing ethyl mercaptan, which is the stinky ingredient in natural gas.  Read More

The ScentScape unit that plugs into a PC via USB to produce smells tailored for games and ...

Retailers, hotels and real estate agents have been using aromas to entice us to part with our cash for years now and there have even been a few attempts to transmit smells via the internet and mobile phones. California-based company Scent Sciences is now looking to bring an olfactory dimension to computer games with its ScentScape personal digital scent delivery system.  Read More

The Perfumery Radar system uses gas chromatography to objectively analyze the different sc...

Making perfume is an art, and you can’t objectively break art down into its individual components... right? In the case of perfume, it appears that perhaps you can. Dr. Alirío Rodrigues, a chemical engineer at Portugal’s University of Porto, has devised a system called Perfumery Radar (PR). It is able to analyze the odor of perfumes, and map out what scents are present, and in what proportions.  Read More

Dr. Jonathan Cox with the model hammerhead shark

If there’s one thing that most of us know about sharks, besides the fact that they occasionally bite people, it’s that they have a fantastic sense of smell - some sharks can smell a single drop of blood within a million drops of water. How do they do it? That’s what British scientists are trying to find out... and their discoveries could be applied to human technology.  Read More

Sense wirelessly connects with a computer and will give users a sensory representation of ...

The Sense concept designed by CD&I Associates is a wireless device that will, it's claimed, offer a "more emotional connection between users and experiences" through touch and smell. It aims to give users haptic, thermal and olfactory sensations while playing games, watching movies and shopping online via a tactile hand sheath and flavor-ink printed output.  Read More

Scientists are hoping that by confusing insects' sense of smell, they won't be able to loc...

Good news for crop farmers this week with UK scientists discovering molecules they hope will confuse insects’ sense of smell and therefore their ability to detect plants – and each other. The researchers believe this could reduce the damage insects cause to crops and lead to better food security. Roughly one-quarter of the world’s crops are lost annually to pests and disease.  Read More

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