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New smartphone chip to help owners identify smells, tastes

Adamant Technologies is developing a processor that will help smartphones sense aromas and flavors and digitize them, Business Insider reports.

iPhone users wondering whether their wine or breath have gone bad may soon have help from a chip designed to identify nearby aromas and flavors.

Adamant Technologies has created a processor for iPhones that "can take the sense of smell and taste and digitize them," Adamant founder and CEO Sam Khamis tells Business Insider. Khamis says his company's product is fairly sophisticated, employing roughly 2,000 sensors to identify smells compared with the about 400 sensors in the average human nose.

The San Francisco startup, which is backed by venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, has begun producing chips at a factory in Austin, Texas, and expects to release apps for the chips in a year or two. It also plans to manufacture a device that will plug in to the iPhone and use a variety of apps, including one that will warn users when their breath is not as fresh as they would like.

"Halitosis, or bad breath tracking, is something we're really interested in," Khamis said, adding that the app will notifying users of bad breath and indicate what caused the condition. Other planned apps will test blood sugar for diabetics and measure blood-alcohol levels.

Giving computers greater sensitivity to their surroundings has attracted more attention lately. IBM unveiled a chip in 2011 designed to mimic the human brain's perception, cognitive, sensation, interaction, and action abilities. IBM envisions its cognitive computing chips could be used for a variety of purposes, such as determining whether supermarket produce had spoiled or detecting earthquakes.