Nigerian Oshi Agabi makes a computer that can smell explosives, illness

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Mr Oshi Agabi

Mr. Oshi Agabi, a Nigerian, has unveiled a computer that can be used in airports or other commercial areas to detect explosives.

Unveiling the computer at the TEDGlobal conference in Tanzania, Agabi said the device is based not on silicon but on mice neurons.

According to him, the system has been trained to recognise the smell of explosives and could be used to replace traditional airport security.

BBC report revealed that the modem-sized device could provide the brain for future robots.

However, Experts said that making such systems mass-market was challenging.

But Mr Agabi has already accomplishes this function with a fraction of the power which would take a silicon-based processor. “Biology is technology. Bio is tech,” he says. “Our deep learning networks are all copying the brain.”

Mr Agabi launched his start-up Koniku over a year ago, has raised $1m (£800,000) in funding and claims it is already making profits of $10m in deals with the security industry.

Koniku Kore is an amalgam of living neurons and silicon, with olfactory capabilities — basically sensors that can detect and recognise smells.

“You can give the neurons instructions about what to do – in our case we tell it to provide a receptor that can detect explosives,” says Mr Agabi

He added that the device is not only for bomb detection, it could be used to detect illness by sensing markers of a disease in the air molecules that a patient gives off.

Speaking with BBC after the prototype device was shown off at TED – Mr Agabi said, the pictures of which cannot yet be publicly revealed – has partially solved one of the biggest challenges of harnessing biological systems – keeping the neurons alive

“This device can live on a desk and we can keep them alive for a couple of months,” he told BBC.

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