Scientists have developed the smallest and cheapest ever equipment for detecting people by smell. It could be used in the search for people buried by an earthquake or avalanche. Trained rescue dogs are still the best disaster workers – their sensitive noses help them to track down people buried by earthquakes or avalanches. Like all living creatures, however, dogs need to take breaks every now and again. They are also often not immediately available in disaster areas, and dog teams have to travel from further afield.
The new measuring device, however, is always ready for use. The scientists had previously developed small and extremely sensitive gas sensors for acetone, ammonia, and isoprene – all metabolic products that we emit in low concentrations via our breath or skin. The researchers have now combined these sensors in a device with two commercial sensors for CO2 and moisture.
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