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Electronic Senses Roundup

November 2, 2012

An electronic nose can sniff out sleep apnea.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Sniffing out sleep problems. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

People with sleep apnea have trouble breathing while asleep and wake up frequently, leaving them exhausted during the day, and prone to a variety of disorders.  Testing for sleep apnea means spending a night at a clinic, hooked up to monitors. But a new method can detect the condition with a breath test.  We exhale over two hundred different organic compounds. German researchers found that by analyzing them with an electronic nose, they were able to detect sleep apnea in 93% of test cases.

In other news, scientists at the University of Texas, Austin are developing sonar that lets firefighters see through flames and smoke. By focusing different sound frequencies into a burning building and analyzing the echoes, the technique could help firefighters locate open doors and other paths to safety. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.