Olfactronics, the new science of smells, is already making a name for itself. Its best-known achievement to date is the “people-sniffer,” developed by General Electric, that’s being used successfully to detect enemy troops hidden in the jungles of Vietnam. An olfactronic bomb detector has been developed to smell out explosives hidden with murderous intent aboard airliners. In the future, precise smell analysis will help doctors to diagnoses diseases. Sniffers will be used in industrial process control and even by electronics servicemen to identify malfunctioning components.
Until only a few years ago, smells were beyond scientific analysis. Odors consist of such small quantities of vapor in the air that instruments were not sensitive enough to check them out. But this has all changed. Apparatus such as that used at the IITRI olfactronics laboratory is now capable of detecting many substances 1/100th to 1/10,000th as concentrated as those noticeable to the nose. Eventually, it is expected that olfactronic instruments, more dependable and expert than a doctor’s nose, will be among the most sensitive of medicine’s diagnostic tools. They may be able to spot some diseases even before people know they are sick. And they will be used for disease prevention—in schools, say, where the unsuspected carriers of airborne diseases will be detected by monitoring the air
GREGORY BENFORD, Popular Mechanics, (2012), "The Future That Never Was: Pictures from the Past', [online], Available: http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/engineering/future-that-never-was-next-gen-tech-concepts?click=main_sr#slide-1