AI Could Soon Alert You About Your Body Odor

Category : Technology
Posted By : Ambrose Onyango
Posted Date : 23 Dec 2018 10:06 hrs

AI-Alert-You-Body-OdorHave you ever been conflicted about your desire to alert a colleague, spouse or a random stranger about their body odor without making that person take offense? Well, the latest in the technology space is that AI could soon alert you about your body odor, so it will no longer be necessary to figure out how to break such news to another person.

Who Is Making These Chips?

Arm, a chip maker based in the UK, is at the forefront of developing this artificial intelligence (AI). This company isn’t new to this kind of innovation. In fact, Arm is responsible for the technology upon which smartphones operate.

The new chip that they are working on will have the capacity to “smell” your body and alert you when your body odor escalates to a level that requires you to take action (take a shower, for instance). Furthermore, this technology will also have other applications, such as monitoring the freshness of food inside its packaging.

Why Wasn’t Such Technology Available Earlier?

Arm has had the technology to detect the freshness of food, but that technology has been so expensive that it couldn’t be used in clothing. Consequently, the PlasticArmPit Project was initiated to find ways of using plastic to carry sensors that can be sewn into clothing in order to provide all-day monitoring of your body for odors.

The chips will have sensors that can detect different chemicals released from your body, after which they will score the strength of those chemicals on a scale of 1-5. The AI can then process that raw data in order to alert you when your body odor has reached a predetermined threshold.

What Are the Challenges Facing the Research Team?

First, the people working on this project have to figure out how this system of electronics will survive in your clothing. Remember, the chips will be sewn into the clothing, so those chips have to survive the challenges of being washed along with the clothing on which they are attached. This is no small hurdle to surmount.

Additionally, the research and development team has to figure out how to make the chips so affordable that they will not lead to a significant increase in the cost of clothing, otherwise the clothes will be so expensive that people will not buy them. Interestingly, the current “e-noses” on the market cost approximately $20,000, so you can imagine by what factor this cost has to be collapsed in order to make the technology affordable.

Furthermore, the researchers face an uphill task of creating artificial intelligence that has the capacity to be flexible enough to detect when different foods have gone bad. For example, the chemical signature of fish as it goes bad may differ from the odor of beef that has spoiled. Moreover, mutton or pork that has gone bad cannot have the same odor as spoiled beef. Creating AI that can detect those often subtle differences in odor will present a major headache to the team.

Does This Science Have Any Marketable Potential?

Electronic noses (e-noses) have a huge potential for the different sectors in which they can be used. For example, the food and pharmaceutical industries have extremely high standards of ingredient purity. Thus, rigorous testing and monitoring is conducted to ensure that only those products that pass the stringent industry tests will be used. A form of artificial intelligence that can allow odors to be detected without touching the food or pharmaceutical product are therefore attractive because they up the ante on food safety.

Additionally, the sports and fitness industry has also gone hi-tech. Artificial noses can be further developed to sense when an elite athlete has pushed himself or herself so hard in training or during competition to the extent that they risk suffering some form of injury or health complication, such as cardiac failure. Such technology can make cases of fatalities on sports fields a thing of the past if the warning signals are detected early and acted upon by the medical teams keeping an eye on athletes.

That notwithstanding, the medical industry also holds promise as another area where artificial intelligence in the form of e-noses can be put to great use. Think of it this way, dogs have been trained to detect different cancers and other life-threatening disease conditions long before such conditions can be detected by the existing medical tests (conducted on blood and other samples). The possibility of designing artificial intelligence that can detect the chemical markers of various diseases can render the cutting-edge technology of using canines obsolete even before it becomes mainstream! The novel idea that AI could soon alert you about your body odor takes on a bigger significance once it is viewed from the perspective of how medical science can use such data.

Another area where electronic noses could be used is in the area of identifying what kind of material a given packaging product, or even the product itself was made. Currently, there are some people who say that different manufacturers make false claims about the materials from which their products or packaging is made. 

For example, one shady manufacturer can falsely print a label asserting that a given product was made from virgin aluminum, yet the item is actually made from recycled aluminum that wasn’t processed sufficiently to meet the high sanitary standards of the industry in which that product is intended to be used. An artificial nose embedded within the product can give a savvy buyer data about the true composition of the product so that an informed decision is made about that purchase.

Are There Any Risks in This Technology?

It is hard to predict with any degree of certainty what the probable risks of the artificial noses embedded in clothing will be. Apart from the fears about the impact of electromagnetic radiation so close to the body (and its knock-on effects on other technologies like pacemakers, for example), there is little else one can say until the final products hit the market.

As you have seen in the discussion above, the reality that AI could soon alert you about your body odor is still years away, so don’t count on it just yet as a way out of facing your partner and telling him or her that their body odor is about to make you puke. Of course, don’t use those exact words if you want to keep that relationship. Who knows, the artificial nose may have nicer ways to communicate this delicate matter.

Bu Ambrose O. for Ezega Blogs

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