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A Sniff of Things to Come

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RALEIGH — Some Triangle researchers may have the solution to a problem that reallystinks.

As people get closer to hog farms, and the smell of hog farms gets closerto people, who could fairly monitor the odor? The answer could be underyour nose -- the mechanical nose, that is.

A team of researchers from N.C. State and Duke University are trying toperfect the mechanical nose. The human nose is not an objective judgeof scent, according to researcher Ricardo Gutierrez.

The machine compares new smells to everyday smells. WRAL-TV5's MarkRoberts volunteered his breath for analysis in themechanical nose. The machine processed it, and the computer spit out theresult -- Mark's breath smells like vanilla.

The mechanical nose could have a big impact on hog farms. If amechanical standard can be devised to monitor odor down on the farm, thestate can then regulate it. That helps everyone, according to N.C.State's Dr. TroyNagle.

The mechanical nose could also be used to check food freshness, detectchemicals, or even to grade wine and liquor.

Don't hold your breath, though. The researchers say that they are atleast two years away from a working model of the mechanical nose.

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