Researchers are creating powerful, portable AI sensors that can detect foodborne pathogens anywhere and everywhere they might turn up. These mobile bacteria sensors could dramatically increase the speed of a pathogen test from days to seconds, allowing individuals up and down the food chain to detect the existence of harmful E. coli or Salmonella before it becomes an outbreak.
These optical devices can be accessed via a smartphone app, which utilize the phone’s processor to connect with the sensors to detect bacteria as small as one micron - that’s about 75 times smaller than a single human hair. At home, sensors could be embedded in the cutting boards or countertops where meat or veggies are sliced. They could even take the form of an ultralight appendage on a fork that can analyze a bite of salad mere seconds before you eat it. On the industrial level, they could be assembled into arrays that rove over entire farm fields. Or fastened onto surfaces and conveyor belts inside food processing centers. They could scan produce aisles in suburban grocery stores or fruit stands on rural roads.