A new invention developed by Denmark’s Technical University can smell a cheese for three minutes and then predict the product’s eventual ripened quality long in advance.

Although the ‘electronic nose’ is still under development and as yet prohibitively expensive to mass produce, it may be in use in dairies as early as the autumn, the Danish Dairy Board said in a news report.

The electronic nose works on the same principle as the human organ: the device contains 12 sensors that react to different substances. Scientists are currently working to determine which of the sensors are most important and if some are expendable as these are the most expensive components of the ‘nose’.

The nose currently only handles mould-ripened cheeses but will eventually tackle all cheeses with a smell that develops as it ripens. The boon for dairies is that they can use their storage capacity better, being able to make long term assessments of their product potential after a three-minute test.