Roboscientific’s team claims that their newly-developed system can detect COVID-19 in the air with 100% accuracy. (Image Credit: Roboscientific)
I’m sick today. My immediate thought − is it covid19? Temp checks, symptom lookups, frantic worry I'll get my family sick. I wish something like this was omni-present in all our homes.
British scientists at Roboscientific developed a sensor with COVID-19 detection capabilities. Once deployed in an indoor environment, it detects the virus’ Volatile Organic Compound Digital Fingerprint. The fingerprint is produced from odors due to metabolic changes in people infected with the virus. According to the team, this system could help solve disease transmission problems in asymptomatic patients.
The device is placed inside a room, collecting air samples for 15-30 minutes to determine if anyone in the setting contracted the virus. Once the monitor detects a digital fingerprint, it notifies the individual via SMS or Wi-Fi. Testing arrangements can then be set up to determine who is infected with the virus in that room. Now, the company is developing breath tests that rely on the same technology to determine if an individual carries COVID-19. This is achieved in real-time with an automated device. It only takes a few minutes for the individual to receive their results.
Similar to a canine’s nose, the system is extremely sensitive and can detect the presence of the fingerprint in small proportions. Experiments were performed over two days to demonstrate its effectiveness as a COVID-19 screening tool. Roboscientific’s 307b VOC model, equipped with twelve organic semiconducting sensors, was utilized in trials.
Clothing worn by infected and uninfected participants was used in this study. The team discovered that this system determined which samples were infected and non-infected., which helped to establish that the coronavirus has a distinct odor. An average of 98% specificity was achieved on the first day, along with a 99% average of sensitivity. On the second day, the system achieved 100% sensitivity and specificity. This made its COVID-19 detection capabilities more accurate than other diagnostic tests.
“From these results, it is expected that the air sampling for VOCs emitted into the air from Covid-19 infected people will be able to spot them with a similarly high degree of accuracy,” says Roboscientific. “This will all be done automatically without any disruption to the inhabitants or anyone having to act as a tester. There is no individual cost associated with this test as it happens automatically within the machine, which is programmed to recalibrate itself at the end of each monitoring cycle, ready for the next test. “
Individual breath sample testing, which provides reliable and instant results, could also reach the same success rate.
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