The investigative agencies in the country are soon likely to get electronic devices called 'electronic nose' which will help them detect explosive materials with almost same accuracy as of sniffer dogs, courtesy Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mumbai.
Faculty of department of electrical engineering at IIT Mumbai and principal investigator of the project, V Ramgopal Rao said, "Scientists have developed 10 prototypes of electronic noses and these are being tested at various levels. The project is being carried out in some other institutes of the country as well,"he said.
Rao was delivering a lecture on nanotechnology at Chandigarh Science Congress being held at Panjab University. The work on the project was started in 2008.
Rao added that for places like airports and Metros, electronic nose device will be of the size of a hand-held metal detector for manual use and for other public transport systems like buses, it could be as small as a tablet with a sensor network. The electronic device can be installed in different rooms of a building as well with a sensor network and could be monitored from a central server.
"Generally a dog's sniffing capacity is 10 million times better than humans. However, the device's capacity will be slightly lesser than sniffer dogs. But it will be able to identify one molecule of a type among one billion of similar size molecules,"Rao said.
He added that the device was as powerful as sniffer dogs in sniffing. It reduces the huge costs incurred by
security and other agencies in training dogs for sniffing.
While replying a question, the IIT professor said though work had not been started on the same, but in principle it was possible that it could help detect drugs. Though the cost was yet to be worked out.
"As per current estimates, its price should be around Rs 50,000 for hand-held devices and Rs 5,000-10,000 in case of tablets for use of censor network in buses,"he said.