Nobody argues with the fact that the human senses are incredibly accurate tools for transmitting the whole variety of sound, visual and tactile sensations with which we have the opportunity to cognize this world. Wanting to compete with nature a little in the skill of creating tools for the cognition of olfactory impressions, an engineer from Intel invented a unique device that can perceive up to 10 different smells and successfully distinguish them from each other. What is the use of an unusual invention for modern science?
How to return the sense of smell?
The device, invented by a specialist of the famous Intel company, can recognize ten different odors, thus simulating the functioning of the olfactory system of the human body, reports nature.com. It is known that even in the presence of strong distracting aromas in the room, the device successfully released the smells programmed to it earlier, storing the “memories” of them in a peculiar likeness of its own network of nerve cells.
Although the device in the technique of smelling is still very far from a person who can perceive up to a trillion of various smells and aromas, the “electronic nose” is still a real breakthrough that can be used not only in creating alarm systems for checking leaks of one or another chemical substance, but even when creating artificial intelligence. Agree, it would be nice to once discuss with the robot about the smell of a freshly baked cake or, say, discuss with it the aroma of the forest after a rain. Such a trifle could significantly “humanize” a new generation robot, giving it more similarity to a person.
Although there are currently a large number of gas sensors capable of detecting a dangerous concentration of harmful gases in the air, they are all tuned only to certain substances. So, they are not able to learn to recognize new odors, which greatly limits their ability to operate. In order to overcome this significant drawback, scientists decided to spy a solution in nature by imitating the device of the olfactory system of animals.
How does a human nose work?
Perhaps you know that the human nose has more than 450 different olfactory receptors. The substance, reaching certain receptors, activates them, and the information obtained as a result of this action enters the brain, which analyzes and stores data on a new smell. Remembering it, the brain then activates the stored information just at the moment when we feel the same smell the next time.
The most interesting thing is that the part of the brain responsible for reproducing this or that smell is turned on even when we try to imagine this or that remembered aroma. However, in this case, the entire system works only partially, which means that the aromas reproduced by us from memory do not turn out as bright as the real sensations from smells.
It is reported that the device created by scientists from Intel imitates a similar simple but ingenious mechanism for reproducing and storing aromas. Researchers are confident that in the future, “artificial nose” could get many useful applications, including the diagnosis of some dangerous diseases. In order to achieve such a result, scientists still need to conduct additional experiments to help make the device more perfect.