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Dept. of B.O.

A Deodorant Maker is Using Machine Learning to Detect Your B.O.

The maker of Axe Body Spray is working on tech to detect odors.

Jon ChristianNovember 13th 2018

Underarmer

Unilever — that’s the owner of prominent deodorant makers Axe and Dove — has teamed up with an all-star squad of academics and electronics manufacturers to create a machine learning-powered gadget that’ll tell you if you have body odor.

That’s according to a detailed story in the magazine IEEE Spectrum about Unilever’s work with chipmaker Arm, electronics firm PragmatIC, and researchers at the University of Manchester. They aim to use some of the most advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and sensor technology in the world — to tell you whether you smell bad.

Smell-O-Vision

The gadget will take the form of a thin plastic strip, according to IEEE, with a tiny processor and an array of organic semiconductors that detect “gaseous analytes” — chemical signs, apparently, that you’re giving off a nasty pong.

And because those gaseous analytes are complex, the system will employ machine learning to analyze the data and decide whether it’s time for a fresh misting of the “hot chocolate” and “red peppercorn notes” from Axe’s Dark Temptation XL Body Spray.

Food Waste

The technology wouldn’t just provide relief for your family and coworkers. It could also potentially evaluate food freshness, according to IEEE — possibly cutting into the 1.3 billion tons of food that went to waste in 2016.

And, to be fair, it also represents a step forward for AI and sensor technology, which have become adept at recognizing sights and sounds but struggled to categorize smells.

READ MORE: Arm Leads Project to Develop an Armpit-Sniffing Plastic AI Chip [IEEE Spectrum]

More on smell technology: FeelReal Brings Sense of Smell To Virtual Reality

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