This Cheap Sensor Will Tell Your Phone When Food Goes Bad

By Adam Clark Estes on at

Some MIT eggheads invented an impressive, inexpensive, simple sensor that stands to protect you against anything from a bomb to a bad packet of beef. The new gadget is just a modified near-field communication (NFC) chip that can detect the presence of specific gases with the help of carbon nanotubes.

The functionality of the sensors is exciting. While the team of chemists that developed the technology are exploring all kinds of different uses for them, these sensors make great sense for food packaging. They can literally tell you if food has spoiled with a quick wave of a smartphone. Just the sensor and the smartphone — that's all it would take. We've seen similar sensors in the past, but none that work with smartphones and offer so much functionality.

"The beauty of these sensors is that they are really cheap. You put them up, they sit there, and then you come around and read them. There's no wiring involved. There's no power," MIT chemistry professor Timothy Swager said in a release. "You can get quite imaginative as to what you might want to do with a technology like this."

The MIT team that invented the sensors has applied for a patent on the technology. But they're also trying to improve it so that the sensors work with Bluetooth, which would extend their range. They even think that they could be integrated into badges so that employees in hazardous areas could get an alert if a dangerous gas is present. We'd probably be happy getting a push alert when our chicken is starting to get nasty, though. [MIT]

Image via MIT