The difference with Koniku’s “camera” is that the purple encasement contains tiny living nerve cells. They’re suspended inside a proprietary solution designed to replicate the mucosa, the layer of membrane high up in our nasal cavities. The cells contain specific transmembrane proteins programmed to recognize odor molecules, precisely as those in our nose would catch a whiff. The reaction triggers a cascade of signaling events, eventually leading to a chip reader that interprets which receptors were triggered. And there you have it: the authentic recognition of an odor.
— Bloomberg takes a look at odor detection startups. Read more in Is a Giant Purple Nipple the Digital Nose of the Future?