e-nose | Electronic Nose


The expression “electronic nose” has been used to describe many devices for various applications with different objectives.

The concept of electronic nose (or eNose) was first introduced by Pr. Krishna Persaud and Pr. George Dood in an article released in 1982. Since then, the expression “electronic nose” has been used to describe many devices for various applications with different objectives. It is important to understand the differences even if they are all referred to as “electronic noses” in the literature and on the internet.

Electronic noses are part of a research area called biomimetics (or biomimicry) to create solutions based on natural phenomena. In this case, the sense of smell which is the faculty to perceive odors (or scents) by means of the organs in the nose. Most of the time, the focus is on the “human sense of smell” and not how dogs or any other animal perceive odors. However, even that is not universal. Most, if not all, electronic noses are currently focusing on identifying, comparing or quantifying an odor. They do not target the hedonic evaluation of an odor since this is highly specific to humans and it relates to a subjective opinion. This is also true for any other type of qualitative aspects of an odor.

To mimic the human sense of smell, an electronic nose is usually based on an array of sensors combined with some pattern recognition algorithms. Many types of sensors are used from electrochemical, metal-oxide semiconductors (MOS), photoionization detector (PID), biosensors, nanotechnology and many others. Each has advantages and disadvantages depending on the applications and objectives of the solution.





Human sense of smell Caption

The human sense of smell.


Gas sensors Caption

Gas sensors are one type of sensors used by eNoses.




White Paper — eNoses can be many things


Types of eNoses

Many devices described as “electronic noses” are currently on the market or will be launched in the next few years. They can be grouped in the following high level categories:

• Industrial Food Monitoring;
• Source Identification;
• Explosive Material Detection;
• Disease Detection / Diagnosis;
• Anosmia & Hyposmia Support;
• Ambient Air Monitoring;
• Environmental Impact Monitoring.

White Paper eNoses can be many things

If you want to learn more about the various types of electronic noses, Odotech released a white paper on the subject.

“Electronic Noses (eNoses) can be many things”

Odotech also has a white paper on the design particularities of an electronic nose.

“How does an electronic nose work ?”



April 5, 2017

Electronic noses (eNoses) can be many things

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Comparison of Electronic Noses and Odor Observer Committee

Installation of a network of electronic noses combined to atmospheric dispersion software at a Municipal Solid Waste management site made it possible to validate the capability […]
May 8, 2013
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White Paper: How Does an Electronic Nose Work?

Off-site odor episodes related to industrial or municipal activities can be generated by operational events or meteorological conditions from several sources. Traditionally, two techniques are used […]
April 25, 2012

Electronic noses detect odours at wastewater treatment plant

The first permanent US installation of a unique technology that can actually “smell” an odor problem before it occurs has been on line in Tucson, Arizona, since […]
October 28, 2011

Controlling odor nuisance with electronic nose: 3 good reasons

1. Emission rates are extremely variable for some sources (a large number of distinct samples would be needed to have a clear picture of the variations), […]