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CES: Tiny sensor can be nose for robots

At CES 2023 in Las Vegas this week, Ball Wave is showcasing Sylph, the world’s smallest device for ‘sniffing’ chemicals in the air.

The world’s smallest and lightest gas analyser (chromatograph) that enables instant onsite environmental assessment anywhere, on Earth or in space, is being unveiled this week at the CES expo in Las Vegas.

Ball Wave, a Japanese sensor startup, is presenting Sylph, powered by the company’s proprietary Ball Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) Sensor, at CES Unveiled today (3January), at ShowStoppers on 5 January, and during CES 2023 from 5 to 8 January.

The world’s first spheric SAW sensor, Sylph is as sensitive in detecting chemicals as state-of-the-art desktop gas chromatographs, while requiring only 1/20th of the power needed to operate those conventional instruments.

Sylph won a CES 2023 Innovation Award in the Mobile Devices & Accessories category. 

Developed in collaboration with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Sylph can also make space exploration and living easier and safer for astronauts and civilians alike. 

“Until now, gas analysis required dormitory refrigerator-sized instruments,” says Ball Wave president and CEO Shingo Akao. “Our invention of the Ball SAW sensor, the 3.3 mm (0.13 inch)-diameter crystal sensor, enabled us to create the palm-sized Sylph that operates on mobile battery power, making gas chromatography accessible anywhere. This compact and powerful sensor has the potential to serve as the ‘nose’ of robots, sniffing out environmental hazards, yeast in foods, or even disease-signaling chemicals in our bodies. We are thrilled to introduce this life-transformative technology and our vision for the future at CES 2023.” 

Ball Wave is a Japanese startup specialising in acoustic waves sensing technology. Founded in 2015 at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan, Ball Wave is led by a team of researchers involved in the research project that resulted in the invention of the Ball SAW Sensor.

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