The electronic nose (e-nose) is designed to crudely mimic the mammalian nose in that most contain sensors that non-selectively interact with odor molecules to produce some sort of signal that is then sent to a computer that uses multivariate statistics to determine patterns in the data. This pattern recognition is used to determine that one sample is similar or different from another based on headspace volatiles. There are different types of e-nose sensors including organic polymers, metal oxides, quartz crystal microbalance and even gas-chromatography (GC) or combined with mass spectroscopy (MS) can be used in a non-selective manner using chemical mass or patterns from a short GC column as an e-nose or "Z" nose. The electronic tongue reacts similarly to non-volatile compounds in a liquid.
The article is published online in the journal Sensors and is free to access.