Chemical detection? There's an app for that

NASA has developed an app (and corresponding hardware) that can detect low concentrations of airborne ammonia, chlorine gas and methane in the air.

Researchers at NASA have developed a killer hardware/software combination for the iPhone and iPod touch that is capable of identifying low concentrations of airborne ammonia, chlorine gas and methane in the air.

The as-of-yet unnamed iSniffer peripheral senses chemicals in the air using a "sample jet" via a multiple-channel silicon-based sensing chip and 16 nanosensors. When paired with a specialized app the combination turns an off-the-shelf iPhone into a compact, low-cost, low-power, high-speed nanosensor-based chemical sensor.

Reminds me of the new LUCAS imaging platform which has been successfully installed in a mobile phone. LUCAS captures an image using a short wavelength blue light to illuminate a blood, saliva or other fluid sample. Using LUCAS a simple mobile phone can montior the condition of HIV and malaria patients and testing water quality in undeveloped areas or disaster sites

The NASA proof of concept device hasn't been tuned to detect other pathogens or explosives yet, but it's not hard to imagine it morphing into a full-fledged tricorder.

Tip: Gizmodo via Ryan Kaplan