Electronic Taste and Smell: The Case for Performance Standards
Nagle, H. T., & Schiffman, S. S. (2018, September). PROCEEDINGS OF THE IEEE, Vol. 106, pp. 1471–1478.
International standards have proven invaluable in the technology sector for developing functional and reliable products for the global marketplace. Standards provide performance criteria that technical engineers can use to design products to optimize the reliability and safety of new products. For example, standards have played a decisive role in the development of products associated with the senses of vision, audition, and touch. The design of products that perform automated “visual” tasks including unmanned vehicles, autonomous robots, optical tracking systems, and highway traffic monitoring devices has relied heavily on standards as well as technical regulations. Likewise, standards related to the sense of hearing have played a major role in the development of devices and systems that assist or mimic “audition” including cochlear implants, hearing aids, and voice and speech recognition systems. Standards related to the sense of touch have been seminal in the design of robotic arms and prosthetic hands. Unlike the senses of vision, audition, and touch, there are, however, no formal standards for electronic devices called e-noses and e-tongues that are designed to detect and evaluate odors and tastes. The purpose of this opinion piece is to give a brief background on the senses of smell and taste, to describe why standards for e-noses and e-tongues are needed, and to call for IEEE volunteers to participate and collaborate on technical standards development to ensure that machine olfaction and taste provide reliable and reproducible results that are comparable to human smell and taste.