CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (WDEF) – A Chattanooga company is working against the clock to help break down the barriers of rapid Covid-19 testing. Variable Inc. was chosen by NASA to put your breath to the test.
When the pandemic hit, Variable, Inc. was contacted by NASA to subcontract and create a prototype for the NASA COVID-19 detection device called the E-Nose.
The device will be able to detect the volatile organic compound or VOCS in a Covid-19 patient’s breath.
“Concept of using a gas sensor that they developed to look at the fingerprint of different gases from your breath. Based on that we can tell if you have Covid-19; if you are infected or not infected as a way of rapid testing of people,” says George Yu, CEO of Variable Inc.
This type of technology has been around for a while but using it to detect the Coronavirus is a whole new territory.
“They use similar sensors to look at patients’ breath to analyze if you have a particular disease or not. The breath coming out of your body can have a lot of tell signs of what kind of disease you have. It’s a national emergency so every technology that is potentially available has to be put together and this is one of them,” says Yu.
Instruments with the capability to detect harmful gases are typically bulky and designed for laboratory use; however, the E-Nose device is hand-held.
Though Yu says the E-Nose device isn’t quite complete, this prototype might offer some protection with possible pandemics in the future.
“At this point it’s difficult to say if it will make a difference in the Covid struggle but the technology that’s being developed here is going to be used for other diseases and potentially for future threats down the road,” says Yu.