Our phones can recognize our voices, faces and movements, so why not our scents? Thanks to Israeli startup NanoScent, your smartphone could identify, recognize and analyze scent as easily as it takes a photo.

If you’re wondering why you would want a scent sensor on your smartphone, the possible uses are almost endless: from sniffing out true love, to detecting fertility or pregnancy, to analyzing nutrition, to alerting you it’s time to shower.

Retailing for under $100, the NanoScent sensor is expected to hit store shelves next year as an adjunct to three health and wellness apps in the fields of nutrition, air pollution and illness detection in humans and agriculture.

Company cofounders Oren Gavriely and Eran Rom joined forces with a team of engineering experts at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology to leverage 10 years of innovation.

“We were able to come together as a collective of brains to bring NanoScent to life, combining our skills and knowledge to create a product with the potential to mainstream scent recognition,” Gavriely tells ISRAEL21c.

“The smells are picked up by the sensor and translated from a scent pattern, or fingerprint, to produce the result — a process which takes between 10 and 60 seconds.”

Initial trials have been successful in matching couples based on pheromone recognition, he reports.

“We are naturally attracted to people of a certain smell, and now that we are able to explore these odors, it’s very possible to connect people to an ideal partner based on their scent profile,” explains Gavriely, adding that dating websites are already trying to snap up the technology.

And in the beauty market, Nanoscent can analyze users’ unique body odors to direct them to the best soaps, perfumes and cosmetics to complement their scent.

“The capabilities extend even further within the field of data analysis to help companies gather information to improve the quality of their products,” Gavriely adds. “For example, food manufacturers will be able to analyze scent data derived from consumer’s nutritional levels from information fed back directly from the sensor.”

Developed by Nanose inventor

The core sensory chip used in NanoScent was developed by scientific mastermind Prof. Hossam Haick of the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute at the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology.

Included on MIT’s list of 35 leading young scientists, Haick is perhaps best known for inventing the Nanose robotic nose that can detect many life-threatening diseases, including some forms of cancer.

Professor Hossam Haick. Photo courtesy the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology

“It’s very possible to diagnose medical conditions through scent and our product offers an important development in the medical field as customers will have the ability to detect illnesses such as the flu or symptoms such as inflammatory bowel disease, among other ailments,” says Gavriely.

NanoScent potentially can also help users and their pets lead a more healthful lifestyle by analyzing nutrition from sniffing waste and suggesting areas for improvement; and by identifying potential harmful particles or chemicals.

Gavriely explains: “The technology mirrors the natural ability of animals, such as rhinos, whose tremendous sense of scent allows them to communicate through body odor.”

A unique opportunity

Similar technology already exists, mainly used in medical and CSI labs or in homeland security. However, NanoScent aims to be the first company to offer a scent recorder to the consumer market.

“Hossam’s solution is scalable, ahead of the curve and has the ability to incorporate a mass of data to further develop its artificial intelligence,” says Gavriely. “Other scent-analyzing products are not taking this approach, so we have a unique opportunity here.”

NanoScent is forging strategic partnerships with several Fortune 500 companies, which are interested in integrating the technology into consumer products and applications.

“The technology can already function in other fields, which is where further research is required, but for now we’re focused on the health and wellness market and our objective is to provide better solutions in these fields,” says Gavriely.

The Haifa-based company, established in 2017, has a core team of 10 employees and has already secured $2 million in seed funding. NanoScent recently was offered $5 million of investment for production costs, commercialization and future R&D.

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