Electronics

Finnish tech could let smartphones "see" gas

Finnish tech could let smartph...
The prototype sensor, attached to a phone
The prototype sensor, attached to a phone
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The prototype sensor, attached to a phone
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The prototype sensor, attached to a phone

Smartphones are already able to monitor things such as light, sound, movement and geographical location. Soon, airborne gases could be added to that list. That’s because VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a miniature phone-compatible sensor, that uses light to identify the type and amount of gases in air samples.

The sensor is a scaled-down version of a Fabry-Pérot interferometer.

As such, it works by shining light of various wavelengths through an air sample. Different gases absorb those wavelengths at known rates, so by analyzing how much of what type of light is absorbed, it’s possible to ascertain if a given gas is present, and in what amount.

Among other things, it has been suggested that the device could be used to measure carbon dioxide concentrations. This could in turn be utilized to test the air quality in workplaces, or to assess peoples' sleep quality by measuring their exhalations.

While there’s no word on possible commercialization, VTT may be facing some competition when the time comes – Variable Technologies, Sensorcon, Homeland Security and the University of California, San Diego are also all working on smartphone gas sensors.

Source: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland

3 comments
John Banister
There's always a market for personal safety type gas detectors for use in confined spaces.
frogola
now we'll find out who did it or dealt it.
Grainpaw
I'm getting occasional fumes from a fracked gas dehydrator on a pipeline about 600 feet from my house. For the first six months or so, it was an overwhelming industrial skunk smell. Since they built another unit somewhere, it has improved, but still, there are days when you know something isn't right. It affected the health of everyone in our rural neighborhood somehow. This isn't illegal unfortunately, but it would be nice to know what we're being subjected to. Government agencies were mostly dense and unhelpful, and have no equipment to monitor the industry they are supposed to be watching. A good quality gas detector costs thousands of dollars.