“This is an artificial nose. It is based on optic technology and its particularity is it has a layer of bio-sensors. So it's a bio-optic smell sensor,” founder and joint CEO of Aryballe Technologies Tristan Rousselle said at IFT in Chicago last month.
Based in Grenoble in France, the company develops and manufactures the mobile-connected, universal odour sensors to help manufacturers in quality control and new product development.
“There is still no reliable and universal technology to analyse smell. Of course the human nose can do it very well so essentially the industry, whether it’s flavour and fragrance or food, relies on the human nose.
Rousselle said that one area where human sense of smell cannot be used is to track the evolution of a product, and how its flavour changes over time.
“We are not going to replace the human nose but […] with this sensor they will be more efficient because they will have references and can directly see numerical data.”
The sensor is capable of detecting smells with a degree of specificity - a variation of just one carbon atom when analysing pure molecules – that Rousselle said Aryballe did not intially expect to achieve.
“It can even detect the state of oxidation, which is very useful because over time food can oxidise and there is a variation in the odour. We have even shown, which was a big challenge, that we can compare enantiomers. These are molecules that have exactly the same formulas but a different orientation."
It is also very sensitive, although not as much as the human nose, which can detect aroma molecules at a sensitivity measured in parts per trillion. Aryballes’s NeOse Pro can detect in the part-per-billion range, which covers around 50 to 60% of applications.
The portable and user-friendly device can be used at any point in the supply chain or manufacturing process to ensure batch-to-batch consistency, from raw material sourcing to during the processing of the final product.
Aryballe has already detected, digitised, and stored 800 aromas in its databases for comparison or matching.