Mobile electronic dog’s nose helps security professionals detect illegal chemicals

Breathalyzers have been a standard in police officers’ arsenal against drink drivers for a while now, so much so that the devices have even been licenced for use at private and corporate events in the UK. Now Vaporsens is a new tool that acts like an electronic version of a sniffer dog, detecting drugs and explosive.

Developed by researchers at the University of Utah, the device is a handheld sensor whose design was based on the way a dog’s nose actually works, replacing the fine hairs with a net of nanofibers to catch molecules in the air. The system is then capable of determining the structure of the molecules and deciding if they match those found in drugs such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines. It can also separate out the presence of explosives from common interferences such as gasoline and cigarette smoke. The device features a smartphone-sized display that delivers detailed information for users. Vaporsens could be useful to a wide range of security professionals, including law enforcement, military, border security, and public safety officials.

Although not yet on the market, the team hope to continue developing Vaporsens and eventually sell it for similar price to larger detecting machines used in airports. What other non-harmful handheld technology could aid law enforcers and soldiers fight criminal activity and peace threats?


Spotted by: Murray Orange

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