Li Jigong of Tianjin University received the “Pineapple Prize” from Guoker, a popular science publication in China by inventing a device that can detect the source of a fart. The Pineapple Prize was named after the tropical fruit which the Chinese find ugly. The award is given to scientific and technological breakthroughs that are both useful and bizarre.
According to the Chinese state media, “(the device) not only solves the mystery of who farted, but provides a way to locate the source of any odor through the complex dynamics of air.”
The device can be fitted to a robot for better mobility and detection. Though the device is deemed amusing and embarrassing (if the robot detects you as the farter!), it could have potential uses in various fields such as detection of toxic gas leaks in industrial plants or as a replacement for drug-sniffing dogs.
Jigong has put some serious work on odor tracing by publishing papers regarding his progress toward creating an odor source localization device. One of the papers he co-authored is titled “Odor source localization using a mobile robot in outdoor airflow environments with a particle filter algorithm.”
Guoker also recognized a study into why flies and other insects appear to groom themselves, which could potentially be applied on how to keep solar panels clean and work on maglev trains in an evacuated tube.