Author: Kamila Barca

Airbus will install “odor” sensors capable of detecting explosives in airports and planes, thanks to its association since 2017 with Koniku, a neurotechnology startup, according to the Financial Times.

The devices, which are shaped like a jellyfish attached to the wall, can identify dangerous chemicals in just 10 seconds. To do this, they rely on a technology developed with living biological cells that can “smell” molecular compounds through silicon processors.

“It uses genetically engineered odor receptors that produce an alarm signal when they come in contact with molecular compounds of danger or threat that have been programmed to detect them [a través del dispositivo]”says Airbus.

“We have developed a technology that is capable of detecting odor: it is breathing the air and is essentially telling you what is in the air. What we do is take biological cells, either Hek cells or astrocytes, brain cells, and genetically modify them to have olfactory receptors, “says Oshiorenoya ‘Osh’ Agabi, founder of Koniku, to the Financial Times.

Likewise, another of the technicians specialized in the Koniku device, has specified to FT that said technology has a response time of less than 10 seconds in the best conditions.

“At this level of maturity it is an incredible result and I hope it will improve over time,” says Airbus’ chief product security officer for America Julien Touzeau.

In fact, the same medium ensures that said technology could even detect diseases such as COVID-19, caused by the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. But it is unlikely that it will be ready before one of the 20 vaccines expected to be developed in 12 to 18 months.

“The biotech disruptive solution, which originally focused on automated, contactless detection, tracking and location of chemicals and explosives on board aircraft and airports, is now adapting, in light of crises like COVID’s -19, to include identification of biological hazards, “explains Airbus.

However, for now, the main goal of Koniku technology is to reinforce security threats at airports. Meanwhile, it develops devices that aim to be part of the day-to-day of any person, as voice assistants have achieved:

“You wake up in the morning, breathe on our device, and we are collecting that data and we are analyzing, longitudinally, your state of health. That is one of our great visions,” its founder acknowledges the Financial Times.

“The new era that we are beginning is the era of biotechnology,” he also stated in an interview with Tech Cabal.

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