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iPhone That Can Smell? Start-up Tackles Human Senses

Your iPhone may soon be able to detect the smells around you thanks to Adamant Technologies.

Can taste and smell be digitized? At least one start-up is trying just that. 

Meet Adamant Technologies, a small start-up based in San Francisco. The company claims it has developed a microchip loaded with 2,000 sensors (the human nose has just 400), which pick out chemicals in the air and digitize scent and taste. In the case of scent, the chip does more than simply recognize a smell. It also determines its cause.  

"Halitosis, or bad breath tracking, is something we're really interested in," said Sam Khamis, founder and CEO in a recent interview with Business Insider.

But more than bad breath, Khamis eventually wants users to be able to detect the presence of virtually any chemical using their iPhone. For example, users could measure calories burned, monitor the blood of diabetes patients, or determine blood alcohol level as part of a Breathalyzer app.

The company is just beginning to mass-produce the olfactory chip in an Austin, Texas plant and expects to be selling iPhone-specific apps and their hardware within two years. Adamant reportedly raised $2.5 million over the summer from venture capitalist Vinod Khosla and will be conducting another round of funding later this year.

Khamis previously co-founded Nanosense, Inc., where he led research and development efforts on bio-inspired carbon nanotube devices (the technology behind the newly-developed chip). He received his PhD in physics at the University of Pennsylvania in 2009.



Last updated: Jan 7, 2013


Julie Strickland covers start-ups, small businesses, and entrepreneurial endeavors of all kinds for Inc. Her work has been published in Brooklyn Based and City Limits in New York, the Free Times in Columbia, SC, Real Travel Magazine in London, and Daegu Pockets in South Korea. She lives in New York City.

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