SmartNanotubes is part of a research project at TU Dresden which uses olfactory sensors to detect body odors


smell Board

Human body odor is influenced by diet, inflammatory processes, and hormone balance, among other factors, and consequently changes in body odor can provide clues to disease – sometimes much earlier than through currently established diagnostic methods. With an olfactory sensor, scientists at the TU Dresden, together with international partners and SmartNanotubes Technologies, want to make valuable information – which has been largely unused in medicine to date – accessible for use and interpretation.

26 April 22. In April 2022, the EU-funded project “Smart Electronic Olfaction for Body Odor Diagnostics” – SMELLODI for short – started with a kick-off meeting. The objective of the seven partners from Germany, Israel and Finland was to develop intelligent electronic sensor systems that can distinguish between healthy body odors and those altered by disease, and transmit them digitally. Over a period of three years and with funding of almost 3 million euros, the technology developed is to pave the way for the digitization of the sense of smell. Olfactory sensors can also help people in everyday life, since body odors play a subtle but crucial role in many social situations. They influence our attraction to our partner, create a sense of belonging in the family, and allow us to draw conclusions about the feelings or illnesses of our fellow human beings. Therefore, the inability to perceive one’s own body odor and the body odor of others is described as one of the most serious impairments for people with olfactory disorders.

The technology envisioned in SMELLODI thus has the potential for use as a rapid, immediate, and non-invasive diagnostic tool. With the advent of inexpensive, environmentally friendly, biocompatible sensor systems, health monitoring of body odors can transform laborious or painful procedures that can currently only be used in purpose-built facilities into a technology for individuals to use anywhere, anytime. An electronic olfactory technology such as has been developed by SmartNanotubes Technologies, that may be able to respond to changes in body odor, can be used to facilitate implants and assistive devices for patients with olfactory disorders and improve their quality of life.

In addition, there are many other applications for the technologies developed in SMELLODI. In the future, an electronic sense of smell might also shape the next-generation smart home (e.g., with refrigerators that monitor food quality), improve industrial processes (e.g., through the use of robots that detect malfunctions in production plants), and facilitate safety and environmental monitoring (e.g., by measuring ammonia in air).

SMELLODI is one of two projects coordinated by the TU Dresden that prevailed against major competition in the Horizon Europe EIC Pathfinder Open Call 2021 and will now be funded by the EU. Besides the Chair of Materials Science and Nanotechnology from project coordinator TU Dresden, the consortium also includes the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel, the University of Tampere in Finland, and the Dresden-based startup SmartNanotubes Technologies GmbH.