The startup nation does it again. This time, Israel’s NanScent has developed a product that can detect COVID-19 in less than 30 seconds. Sheba Medical Center is currently testing the product on several patients.

Israeli startup company NanoScent has developed a medical device that enables medical professionals to ‘sniff out’ COVID-19 in an individual in what is said to be less than 30 seconds. The device was successfully tested earlier in the year and is currently being tested at Israel’s prestigious Sheba Medical Center, as well as Sourasky Medical center and Poriya Medical Center. Additionally, Magen David Adom (MDA) is testing these in their drive-thru testing locations.

NanoScent specializes in the production of a device(s) that is able to ‘digitize’ scent. They explain on their website:

NanoScent is making scents readable. Our offering is for diverse customers providing managers with an objective tool to measure scent any time anywhere. NanoScent is making odor a part of the digital world for the benefit of factories, healthcare and personal. NanoScent technology can be used to detect hundreds of different odors and scents, ranging from cigarette car smoke all the way to hazardous odors such as benzene.

Furthermore, their website states:

NanoScent is making scent readable by combining the hardware (Scent Recorder) and the software (cloud-based scent recognition algorithms) for the deployment of the scent recognition service. NanoScent SR (Scent Recorder) includes 3 components: 1. Electronics housing and communication; 2. Pneumatics; 3. Core sensor. On the sensing chamber, we have 8 different sensors 1mm diameter each that resembles a flower. On each of the leaves of this flower, the sensor has different chemical coatings, thus providing a different response to the air sample. Each leaf of the flower is connected to an electrode and the chemical coating lies between + and – of each interdigitated electrode. The sensing cycle is similar to breathing – we breath in and then we breath out. In order to achieve this, the SR creates a vacuum in the sensing chamber. During the scent measuring cycle, the air is coming in through the inlet, then it is locked in the chamber for several seconds, and then the digital signal is transmitted to the software. The vacuum is used for cleaning.

Their COVID-19 development is used in the following manner: The patient blows through their nose into a designated bag through an additional hose-like component that is developed outside of Israel. The bag is prepped with sensors that automatically pick up scents that are “emitted by COVID-19.” This is what allows them to receive test results in less than 30 seconds and act accordingly to help prevent the spread of the virus. In essence, this test is a breathalyzer used via the nose.

CEO Oren Gavriely stated in an interview that “Biologically speaking, different viruses develop in different places. The coronavirus develops in the nose. And because it develops there, it changes how our breath from the nose smells.”

Sheba Medical Center is continuing to test the product, to which Gavriely said, “This is the training phase of the device, like training a dog for a new smell, to enable the software to create a pattern.”

Another benefit of this new method of testing is that it helps identify potentially asymptomatic people, which is something that’s been a struggle to do in order to help further prevent the spread. However, according to the CDC, the spread of COVID-19 via asymptomatic people is not very common. And when it comes to things such as airline travel, two airline companies have already signed a letter of intent with NanoScent to use their product. According to Gavriely, “During check-in, you can breathe in there and confirm you have nothing before you board the flight.”

Throughout this COVID-19 era, Israel has presumably led the world when it comes to innovations to combat the virus. NanoScent is one of many Israeli companies who’ve taken the challenge upon themselves to help slow the spread. However, based on the information stated above, NanoScent has certainly set itself apart when it comes to quick, efficient test results.