One Day, a Machine Will Smell Whether You’re Sick
Ancient Greek and Chinese medical practitioners used a patient’s scent to make diagnoses. Modern medical research, too, confirms that the smell of someone’s skin, breath and bodily fluids can be suggestive of illness. The breath of diabetics sometimes smells of rotten apples, experts report; the skin of typhoid patients, like baking bread.
But not every physician’s nose is a precision instrument, and dogs, while adept at sniffing out cancer, get distracted. So researchers have been trying for decades to figure out how to build an inexpensive odor sensor for quick, reliable and noninvasive diagnoses.
The field finally seems on the cusp of succeeding.
“You’re seeing a convergence of technology now, so we can actually run large-scale clinical studies to get the data to prove odor analysis has real utility,” said Billy Boyle, co-founder and president of operations at Owlstone, a manufacturer of chemical sensors in Cambridge, England.
Mr. Boyle, an electronics engineer, formed the company with two friends in 2004 to develop sensors to detect chemical weapons and explosives for customers, including the United States government. But when Mr. Boyle’s girlfriend and eventual wife, Kate Gross, was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2012, his focus shifted to medical sensors, with an emphasis on cancer detection.
With artificial intelligence, he said, the machine becomes better at diagnosing with each exposure. Rather than detecting specific molecules that suggest disease, however, Mr. Haick’s machine sniffs out the overall chemical stew that makes up an odor.
It’s analogous to smelling an orange: Your brain doesn’t distinguish among the chemicals that make up that odor. Instead, you smell the totality, and your brain recognizes all of it as an orange.
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Bundle Selling Thoughts
Bullen Regional Sales Manager, Jack Collins remind us this week that bundle selling is not just selling products. The key is to focus on offering solutions to customer problems. To quote a precept from his Scott Paper days: “we are selling dry hands”. Bullen is actually selling a number of things, but the focus needs to be on the problem - solution all the time and in all marketing and sales communications. AirX is selling "environments free of bad, nasty odors”, etc.
What are you selling and how can it be turned into problem solving?
Have a great day and an even better sales week!