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Sensors Used to Step Up Security


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In these times of high awareness of potential threat, there is a greater need for precautionary measures. Explosives, chemical warfare agents, and toxic industrial chemicals present the most immediate threats towards soft targets such as stadiums, malls, theme parks, airports, subways, train stations, and high-rise buildings.

The problem

Security processes generally involve “portal” systems that individuals walk through. The systems restrict movement, can be large and costly, and are labor-intensive to operate. Though mostly effective, a more widespread security system sweeping waiting rooms, bathrooms, and shops could be employed to ensure optimal effectiveness.

Most hazardous items are volatile such as explosives, toxic industrial chemicals, and chemical warfare agents. Small, sensitive, and rapid sensors could be employed in multiple locations throughout soft targets to ensure safety. These detectors could work in conjunction with camera systems to better survey areas.

The solution

The detection of volatile airborne compounds can most easily be achieved by “vertebrate olfactory systems. ” The systems are most highly developed in dogs. Dogs’ noses can detect many different odors by using responsive sensors to harness information. Their brains register a response pattern in order to recognize odors. Dogs are used by the police and military to identify specific chemical substances (explosives and narcotics). The use of dogs does have its limitations because they cannot be used in potentially harmful environments and must be used with trained handlers.

Scientists have come to the conclusion of creating sensors that can duplicate the prowess of a dog’s nose. The sensors can constantly and consistently monitor for harmful agents. The challenge is in mimicking the broadly responsive sensor array and duplicating the olfactory receptor proteins in the vertebrate of the nose in order for the sensors to detect specific odors of interest and discriminate between targets and other odors that will interfere with the process.


In engineering sensors to duplicate the olfactory proficiency of a dog, scientists will enable security to reach new levels. Security will be able to move beyond portal systems and will encompass more areas while running all of the time. This is just one of the examples of the power of technology and its implications of changing the future for the better of mankind.

Measurement Specialties Inc. is a global designer and manufacturer of sensors and pressure transmitters. We design and manufacture sensors for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) as well as end users. Measurement Specialties offers a large variety of sensor products to meet application requirements in many industries including automotive, off-road, medical, industrial, consumer, military/aerospace, test/measurement and traffic applications.


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