We know that drugs, explosives and even cancer can be detected by the sensitive nose of a well-trained dog. Some of these working animals may soon find themselves out of a job because of a mobile phone app called SniffPhone.
Professor Hossam Haick of the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) has developed NaNose breathalyzer technology that can “smell” human breath and detect cancer as well as other serious diseases (as reported in Cosmos).
The system works by means of a small smell-sensitive sensor that can be installed on to a phone add on. With the help of specially designed software the phone will be able to detect the presence of benign and malignant tumours. The system requires a chip carrying NaNose technology to be installed in a device attached to a smartphone and for the app to read the sensor data.
Haick says the system is accurate 90 per cent of the time. He says it is cheaper and less invasive than most of the tests used today, and can be employed in remote areas.
It is expected to be particularly useful in detecting lung cancer, which is especially difficult to diagnose in its early stages.
“Mostly the patient arrives for diagnosis when the symptoms of the sickness have already begun to appear,” says Haick. “Months pass before a real analysis is completed. And the process requires complicated and expensive equipment.”