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A device for touching odors

Gas sensorsInformatica Tsd EnTactile interfaceVolatile compounds


Sight is the universally used sense for acquiring information. Instead, this invention introduces a synaesthetic interface where smells are revealed through the sense of touch introduces a synaesthetic interface where smells are converted into tactile stimuli giving the user the sensation of touching the smells.

Technical features

Human / machine interfaces are almost universally based on the sense of sight. This invention proposes to translate the information from chemical sensors into tactile stimuli that can be perceived by the receptors located at the surface of the body. Such stimuli could be either thermal, made by heaters in contact with body, or mechanical. In this last case, either passive (e.g. change of stiffness of articulations) or active (e.g. vibrations such as in cellphone). The kind of detected odors depends on the sensors, so that changing sensors also the perceived odors change. For instance, the inventors, in their past studies, developed sensors which can diagnose tumors, or detect bacterial infections, or even to determine the freshness of foods. The most captivating application of this invention is a glove endowed with gas sensors and mechanical actuators. The increase of the stiffness of the joints is proportional to the intensity and the quality of the odor so that the use will have the feeling that he is grasping the odour. The inventors develop since several years sensors that can detect the compounds exhaled by tumoral tissues or by bacterial colonies. The implementation of these sensors in a engineered glove will enable a surgeon to identify tumor tissues during surgery or a physician to detect a bacterial infection during the inspection of a patient.


Possible Applications

  • Industrial: glove that drive an operator to detect a leakage from a gas pipeline;
  • Medical: glove to help a physician or a surgeon to detect infected or cancerous tissues;
  • Ambient assisted living: to help blind people to identify food and determine the freshness.


  • Implementable as a wearable device (e.g. a glove);
  • Alternative approach to man-machine communication;
  • Novel processes of signal interpretation and connection with the human motor system;
  • Usable by sight impaired individuals.