Rewriting Life

The Smell of Trouble

Industrial tools must be monitored daily for wear and tear-a labor-intensive process that sacrifices production time. A new surface coating developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films, in Brunswick, Germany, promises a more efficient way to smell trouble.

The coating, embedded with fragrance-filled microcapsules, is applied to tools and machinery. As a protective top layer wears thin, the capsules are broken and the fragrance is released. For household tools, any concentrated fragrances, such as perfumes, can be used and detected by the human nose. For industrial machinery, other indicators, such as gases, can be encapsulated. When released, they can be detected by a sensor that triggers an alarm. The researchers aim to have the coatings commercially available in Europe within about a year.

Uh oh–you've read all five of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium

$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Rewriting Life

Reprogramming our bodies to make us healthier.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Basic.

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

You've read of free articles this month.