A new device can sniff out if someone in a crowded room has COVID-19, British researchers say.
The highly accurate ceiling-mounted sensor takes as few as 15 minutes to raise a coronavirus alarm, says development firm RoboScientific.
The room monitor, a little larger than a smoke detector, detects changes in odor to the skin or breath experienced by people during the illness, the company says.
Samples are taken of the room for around 15 to 30 minutes to scan for the odor, which is unable to be picked up by a human nose, and then an alert is sent with the results, according to the company.
Early studies from researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Durham University in the UK tested the device using body-odor samples from socks worn by infected and uninfected people.
The scientists found that the device was able to correctly detect the virus from the samples with an accuracy rate of between 98 and 100 percent.
The findings suggest that the electronic device is more accurate than PCR tests, since they don’t always pick up asymptomatic carriers, the Times of London reported.
Scientists said the technology can also have important safety benefits for travel and crowded events.
“This would allow the detection of one infected individual within a room or aircraft,
allowing rapid and more targeted testing to be done, saving money and time, and reducing onward transmission,” the researchers said.
The new technology comes after two companies, Airbus and Koniku, announced last year that they had partnered up to create a similar device that also triggers an alarm when “smelling” molecular compounds of the virus.