Scientists have invented a new low-cost, portable, paper-based IoT sensor that could potentially carry out everyday functions with easy-to-read results.

According to ” Silvana Andreescu, Ph.D.,

“Most people working on similar sensors use solutions that migrate on channels,” Andreescu says. “We use stable, inorganic particles that are redox active. When they interact with the substances we want to detect, they change color, and the intensity of the change tells us how concentrated the analyte is.”  

Additionally, Ms.Andreescu stated, “because all of the reagents needed to operate the device are incorporated in the paper, users don’t need to add anything other than the sample being tested.”

Imagine the applications for this paper-based sensor? A few top-of-mind, could include:

  • Meat purchased at the grocery store. How many times have you placed a package of chicken or ground beef in the refrigerator one day and a few days later wondered if it was still OK to cook? I’ve called my go-to-chef (my mother) multiple times asking, “do you think this is still good to make???”
  • The true age of wine. Wine values often correlate with age. A paper-based sensor could not only provide a more accurate age but also signal when an age is ready to drink based on its chemical composition within the bottle.
  • Cosmetic spoilage identification.  Who knew cosmetics spoil? I didn’t! But paper-based sensors could also identify and signal to users when their cosmetics a beginning to spoil.
  • Grocery product spoilage identification. We play a game at our house around who could find the oldest, must out-of-date food on our pantry! Almond butter from 2011 – uck! But imagine the product notifying your iphone (or refrigerator) alerting you to the out-of-date product and reminding you to not only throw it away but to also replace it by adding hr exact product to your grocery list?

Check out a video showcasing this new IoT paper-based sensor:

I wonder how consumers may perceive these signals since many currently perceive “sell by” or “used by” dates as arbitrary selling tactics.  I know my father, a grocery veteran, would bulk at “use by” dates listed on most products. 

Regardless, the advancement in sensor technology is astonishing and the applications of a paper-based sensor are exceptional. Whether for R&D in the field (consider testing medicinal plants) or in the consumer’s home, this innovation is creating new purposes for connected devices that can address everyday use cases.

What do you think? How do you imagine paper-based sensors could be used in your business?

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