Researchers have connected the biological sensor to an electronic system and have used a machine learning algorithm; the resulting robot was able to identify odors with a level of sensitivity 10,000 times higher than that of a commonly used electronic device.
The researchers believe that in light of the success of their research, this technology may also be used in the future to identify explosives, drugs, diseases, and more.
“We connected the biological sensor and let it smell different odors while we measured the electrical activity that each odor induced. The system allowed us to detect each odor at the level of the insect’s primary sensory organ. Then, in the second step, we used machine learning to create a ‘library’ of smells.
“In the study, we were able to characterize 8 odors, such as geranium, lemon and marzipan, in a way that allowed us to know when the smell of lemon or marzipan was presented. In fact, after the experiment was over, we continued to identify additional different and unusual smells, such as various types of Scotch whiskey.
“A comparison with standard measuring devices showed that the sensitivity of the insect’s nose in our system is about 10,000 times higher than the devices that are in use today.”