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iPhone app adds chemical sensing capabilities

NASA develops proof-of-concept prototype

If you're in need of finding out if there is ammonia, chlorine gas or methane in the air around you, there’s an iPhone app for that. A researcher at NASA's Ames Research Center has developed what NASA calls a proof-of-concept of new technology that would bring compact, low-cost, low-power, high-speed nanosensor-based chemical sensing capabilities to mobile phones.

The device NASA researcher Jing Li, Li developed is about the size of a postage stamp and fits in the iPhone to collect, process and transmit sensor data, NASA said. The device senses chemicals in the air using a "sample jet" and a multiple-channel silicon-based sensing chip, which consists of 16 nanosensors, and sends detection data to another phone or a computer via telephone communication network or Wi-Fi.

Li along with researchers working under the Cell-All programme in the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate developed the app.

Cell-All is designed to provide greater chemical detection capabilities in mobile phones. Phone owners could use their handset's GPS to provide sensor location information to emergency operation centres, NASA stated.

This isn’t NASA first iPhone app. Last month NASA Ames also developed the first NASA iPhone application to deliver up-to-the-minute NASA content directly from the space program to your iPhone. The application aggregates and delivers a range of dynamically updated information, images and video links.

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