Sensor accuracy reaches 100 percent.
A ceiling-mounted device developed in the UK can detect whether someone in a room has a coronavirus in 15 minutes. The “alarm” can detect chemical changes in the skin and breathe of people infected with COVID-19. Studies show that the accuracy of the gadget is up to 100%.
A team of scientists has developed a “COVID sensor” that can detect whether someone in a room is infected with the coronavirus in just 15 minutes. The technology could provide an affordable way to screen large numbers of people in spaces including airplane cabins, nursing homes, classrooms, and offices, the Daily Mail reports.
The device, developed by Cambridgeshire-based RoboScientific, uses sensors that can detect a distinct smell that results from chemical changes in the skin or breath of people infected with the coronavirus.
The virus causes the volatile organic compounds that make up body odor to change, creating a “fingerprint” that is not felt by humans but can be detected by the device when it absorbs the odor.
The device, which can be mounted on a wall or ceiling, is programmed to automatically send positive results to the specified person via SMS or email.
Research by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Durham University, although in the early stages, shows that the accuracy of the device is between 98 and 100 percent. This may mean that they are much more accurate than side-flow tests and as accurate as PCR tests.
These devices cost a lot – 5,000 pounds. But, while not cheap, they can reduce the need for frequent PCR testing and side-flow testing on a large scale.
Professor James Logan, who led the study, said: “These results are really promising and demonstrate the potential of using this technology as a rapid, non-invasive test with incredible accuracy. However, further testing is needed to confirm whether these results can be replicated in real-world conditions. If these devices are successfully developed for use in public places, it will be possible to increase their production easily and at an affordable price. They can also protect people from future disease outbreaks by being able to develop arrays of sensors to detect other diseases within weeks.”
The study used body odor samples from socks worn and given to scientists by 54 people – 27 individuals who tested positive for COVID-19, who had no symptoms or had mild symptoms, and 27 uninfected people.
Over a two-day period, the sensors achieved 100 percent accuracy, but the researchers say more research is needed on a larger scale to determine their effectiveness.
RoboScientific is exploring the capabilities of two types of devices for fully automated COVID-19 screening – a portable device and an indoor device.
A portable device can detect whether a person has COVID-19 by the smell of their body. Experts believe that when used in public places, these devices can replace PCR tests and side-flow testing as a faster and less invasive tool to inform someone whether they are infected and whether they need self-isolation.
The indoor device – the first of its kind – can be used to test spaces such as classrooms or airplane lounges to determine if an infected person is there.
Scientists say the results of the air analysis will be available within 30 minutes. If COVID is detected, everyone in the room will have to undergo individual testing to determine who exactly was infected.
Professor Steve Lindsay, from the Faculty of Biological Sciences at Durham University, said: “Many diseases have a special smell associated with them. We started our research with a blank sheet of paper and asked the question: Does COVID-19 have a distinct smell? We ended the study by showing a clear separation of the odors of people infected with the virus and people not infected with it. COVID definitely has a very distinct smell. This is a real scientific discovery, and it is very interesting for the development of screening methods for this disease.” Stan Curtis, CEO of RoboScientific Ltd., said, “Our disease detection platform can provide fast and accurate disease monitoring so that we are prepared if and when the next pandemic arrives.”