By Ishan Sharma, Director of Product, Stratuscent
We live in a digital world. We use our smartphones with built-in microphones and cameras to capture, record, and understand the sights and sounds around us. We interact with this digital world through touch, vibration, and sounds. Audio and video information, however, provides us with only a limited “picture” of our world, especially without any scent information.
Scent digitization is a game-changing technology. It detects, captures, digitizes, and processes airborne chemical information present in our environment and provides actionable data to help gauge freshness, improve yields, asses quality, control processing, prevent spoilage, and monitor air quality – thus, opening the door to a myriad of applications.
To digitize scents, Stratuscent has developed a breakthrough, portable, real-time, and low-cost electronic nose (eNose) that leverages chemical receptors and artificial intelligence (AI) to digitize simple and complex everyday scents in real-time with great accuracy. eNose technology is going to enhance how we perceive our world by augmenting the human ability to smell. In fact, Stratuscent’s eNoses can capture scents that are undetectable by the human nose, distinguish the tiniest nuances, and predict changes in the quality of produce, food, beverages, and greenhouses, indoor and outdoor environments, and more.
PREVENTING FOOD SPOILAGE AND DETERIORATION
Let’s talk about food spoilage: visually or through smell, we can easily tell when food items have spoiled. What if, however, an eNose was able to alert us before the food started to spoil?
Milk is a great example: if it has curdled already, we can visually tell that it needs to be thrown out. Sometimes we can even assess early signs of spoilage through smell. Unfortunately, when those signs of deterioration are obvious, it is already too late to act.
With Stratuscent’s eNose we can detect even the tiniest changes in the condition of foods and beverages. It combines scent digitization with artificial intelligence to track the condition of foods and beverages as they go from fresh to ripened to spoiled; thus allowing us, with enough data, to predict when they are about to spoil.
This information would enable produce supply chains – growers, processors, distributors, retailers, and consumers – to utilize their resources more efficiently. For example, produce that shouldn’t be consumed fresh anymore, could be sorted out to be processed and cooked.
In retail, inventory spoilage is a recurring issue. Expiration dates are not always reliable because poor transportation and storage conditions are not factored in. If retailers were able to determine when food is still safe for consumption but could soon go bad, they could mobilize the inventory by marking down the price, thereby reducing wastage and minimizing the economic impact.
Stratuscent’s scent technology can provide insights for food wastage reduction, from the grower to the processor and all the way to retailers and consumers. By enabling more efficient supply chains, Stratuscent’s technology goes a long way towards helping our economy.
INDOOR AIR QUALITY APPLICATIONS
We spend a lot of our time indoors: in our homes, workplaces, car, buses or trains. Any irritants and harmful chemicals in these environments, can have short- and long-term health impacts. Stratuscent’s eNose technology can extend air quality monitoring beyond the traditional carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, or other toxic gas detectors. In fact, scent digitization can make it possible to detect and alert when certain scents, bad odors, or even allergens are present in the environment.
In building management or remote home monitoring applications, Stratuscent’s scent technology can be trained to alert when the HVAC system is saturated, there is evidence of mold, the washroom or kitchen areas are due for cleaning, or the garbage needs to be disposed.
Public transport has become more automated. A great example of this trend are the commuting trains that run in close circuits for very long shifts and accommodate large numbers of passengers. Assessing the condition of the cars becomes a difficult task with huge impacts on passenger comfort, travel experience, and even public health.
With enough data, eNose technology can continuously monitor and identify the presence of pollutants, waste, moisture, etc. to ensure preventive and timely cleaning of the cars.
THE PERFECT RECIPE EVERY TIME
Stratuscent’s eNose solution eases off the pressure while cooking. The eNose will detect when the sauce is boiling, if spices are added, and how the ingredients change throughout the cooking process. Through the aroma, Stratuscent’s eNose can alert us on when to add ingredients, stir or flip, and turn off the heat, thus enabling us to make the perfect meal every time!
Roasting the perfect coffee bean and aging wine and cheese is an art. These industries have rigorous controls to prevent spoilage or wastage. On-site electronic noses that can constantly track the different processing stages is a very powerful tool to maintain and guarantee the highest level of quality.
UNLOCKING THE POTENTIAL OF SCENT DETECTION
Stratuscent is driving innovation with a low-cost, portable, real-time and software upgradeable device which can detect and quantify different kinds of complex scents, much like our human nose. Thanks to its artificial intelligence and proprietary sensing array that is based on NASA’s technology, Stratuscent’s solutions can detect an infinite number of scents for endless applications.
PROPRIETARY CHEMO-SCENT RECEPTORS
At the core of Stratuscent’s eNose is a 32-sensing-element chemiresistive array targeted towards the various functional groups of Volatile Organic Compounds (VoCs). As the scent flows over this array, the impedance of the sensing elements changes to create a scentprint unique to each scent. This scentprint is continuously captured and relayed to the cloud for interpretation. Thus, Stratuscent’s proprietary chemo-scent receptors respond holistically to a scent.
BIO-INSPIRED ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
Much like how our olfactory system works, the signal from the sensor (the “nose”) is sent to the AI-enabled cloud (the “brain”) for processing. Using proprietary machine learning techniques, the AI engine is able to not only detect the differences between different scentprints (e.g. lavender versus citrus) but also able to detect changes in the scentprints over time (e.g. during cooking) in various humidity and temperature conditions and in the presence of complex background scents.
In a true bio-mimicking fashion, just like how we don’t switch our noses between smelling flowers and wines, Stratuscent’s solution doesn’t require different eNoses for different aromas. Leveraging the capabilities of the Microsoft Azure cloud, the same eNose unit can be remotely upgraded with improved capabilities or additional target aromas. Moreover, Stratuscent’s eNoses continually learn from all the other eNoses..
The industry of scent digitization technology and electronic nose is a billion‐dollar market with tons of optionality.
It will be a huge market going forward and early adopters will benefit the most.
If you want to learn how your industry can benefit from scent technology, please contact Stratuscent.
Dr Ashok Masilamani, CTO at Stratuscent will be presenting their gamechanging innovation at the Future Food-Tech Webinar on May 28.