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Technology Report: The Electronic Nose

By: Bob Sobel, FONA International
Posted: October 18, 2005, from the November 2005 issue of P&F magazine.

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  • From P&F Magazine
  • November 2005 issue, pg 22
  • 4 pages

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Electronic, or artificial nose technology (e-nose), has received a considerable amount of scrutiny since its inception over two decades ago. From the first publications by Persaud and Dodd in 1982 (Nature), to today’s proposed development of an electronic mouth, debate continues as to its suitable home within the flavor and fragrance industry. Much of the scrutiny of this tool originates with the vastly different disciplines of analytical chemistry and sensory analysis.

As shown in F-1, analytical and sensory sciences are on opposite ends of a flavor and fragrance characterization spectrum. Where the analytical approach prides itself on providing a bias free quantifiable value to flavor characterization, sensory science relies on quality-based subjective results obtained from the most advanced receptors and neural network — our nose and brain. The evaluation techniques utilized by these two disciplines, such as gas chromatography (GC), gas chromatography olfactory (GCO), expert panels, descriptive analysis, triangle tests and preference tests, span the length of the spectrum from quantity to quality-based. The e-nose can be found in the middle of this spectrum as a compliment to the tools on either side of it.

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