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Computers Might Be Able To Smell In The Near Future

By April 2, 2020May 9th, 2022Technology News

Word has recently leaked out about an interesting project that’s ongoing at Intel’s research labs. The company has apparently built an algorithm that mirrors the brain’s activity to detect and identify smells. The company developed a computer chip for the project. Called a “neuromorphic” chip, it was designed to allow a computer to process information the same way that a biological brain does.

The project is being pursued in partnership with researchers at Cornell University. It began when the Intel research team began investigating what happens inside the brain of mammals when they smell something.

As you might expect, there’s actually a lot that goes on inside a mammalian brain when a scent is detected. In fact, there are more than 450 different kinds of olfactory receptors in our noses that send signals to the brain. From there, electrical impulses within a group of neurons generate the sense of particular odors.

Then, of course, there’s the fact that our brains act as biological databases. They’re capable of storing not only memories of previous scents, but can cross-reference known scents and accept new information that allows us to track and differentiate hundreds of thousands of different scents.

Intel’s current goals are significantly more modest than developing a chip that can differentiate that many different smells. They’re starting with a goal of ten. They’ve recorded the responses of a total of 72 different chemical sensors sitting in a wind tunnel as a small number of different scents (including acetone, ammonia and methane) were circulated.

The data gleaned from the sensors was then fed into the Neuromorphic chip, which was able to draw neural representations of each smell.

Ultimately, the point behind the research is to better understand how the brain’s neural circuitry solves complex problems and use that understanding to design the next generation of machine intelligence. The future just got another step closer.

Jason Manteiga

Jason J. Manteiga, Vice President of Olmec Systems, has been part of the company for over the past 20 years. He believes that having a great work environment and supportive team, is the ultimate key to success. Since being in the IT realm for over 25 years, Jason, along with Olmec Systems, has been on the Inc. 5000 “List of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies” and Channel Futures MSP 501 “Top Managed Service Providers in North America,” along with other awards and nominations. Jason earned his Bachelor Degree in Information Systems from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He also holds certifications in Microsoft MCSE, VMWare VCP, and Cisco CCNA. In his spare time, Jason is a contributor for The Center for Social & Legal Research (Privacy Exchange) and a member of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce. His hobbies include cycling and kayaking. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife, two daughters and son.