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In Tanzania, Nigerian unveils software chip capable of detecting explosives

A Nigerian techprenuer, Agabi has invented and presented a modem-sized technology at the TEDGlobal conference in Tanzania that can detect smells of explosives from a distance.

He said the system is made from a mixture of living neurons and silicon, with sensors that can detect and recognise smells.

Agabi’s start-up company- Koniku- was launched over a year ago and has raised $1m (£800,000) in funding.

He says the company is already making profits of $10m upwards and has customers in the aviation and pharmaceuticals industries.

According to him, the chip could be used to replace traditional airport security and could provide the brain for future robots.

“You can give the neurons instructions about what to do – in our case we tell it to provide a receptor that can detect explosives”, he told BBC.

The device could also be used to detect illness by sensing markers of a disease in the air molecules that a patient gives off.

The prototype was shown off at TED in a video of it being taken out of the laboratory.

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

“We think that the processing power that is going to run the robots of the future will be synthetic biology-based and we are laying the foundations for that today,” the Nigerian averred.