Recently we reported that U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Cell-All had developed a chemical-sniffing iPhone add-on that can potentially offer early information on a chemical attack, confirm suspicions of methane emissions, and give users information about the chemicals present in their everyday environments. Now Cell-All has announced that it wants to integrate its technology directly into smartphones — much like GPS sensors, cameras, and MP3 players are embedded into our phones. The stamp-sized chemical sensor can sniff small amounts of chemicals like methane, ammonia, and chlorine gas.

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Imagine this: a terrorist is carrying hazardous chemicals through a train station. However thanks to new technology, everyone standing in the station has smartphones equipped with chemical-sniffing sensors. As soon as one person’s chemical sensor is triggered, their cell phone automatically alerts the police within 60 seconds, saving everyone in sight from a chemical attack. Such a scenario is closer to becoming reality than you might think thanks to Cell-All‘s chemical-sniffing iPhone chip.

The technology is a long way from full-on commercialization, but Homeland Security is working on cooperative research and development agreements with Qualcomm, LG, Apple and Samsung — four major cell phone manufacturers. If all goes well, 40 prototypes will be ready within the year, including one that sniffs carbon monoxide and fire. And eventually, Cell-All envisions that we will have “a chemical sensor in every cell phone in every pocket, purse, or belt holster.”

+ Department of Homeland Security