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Mice could replace dogs to sniff out explosives, drugs

London, Nov 14, 2012, (PTI) : 14:29 IST
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Mice could soon replace dogs to sniff out bombs, explosives, drugs and even suicide bombers.

An Israeli security company has now trained rodents to tip off guards when they detect explosives, drugs and other contrabands, virtually turning them into biological sensors.

The security firm called 'Tamar Group' is the brainchild of former Israeli special forces officers, who claim that their breakthrough could transform the homeland security market.
Boaz Hayun, CEO of the group, was quoted by Daily Mail as saying that mice were eventually chosen over dogs because of their keen noses and diminutive size.

"Our system takes animals and turns them into biological sensors, using specially-trained laboratory mice and measuring their reactions to outside stimuli.

"They are placed at the entry point in a security checkpoint or installation, and when they detect something that appears suspicious, the sensor records their physical reactions and communicates it to a computer that analyses the data and alerts the security personnel," he said.

Israeli experts said that the "mice have a highly developed sense of smell, more than that of dogs and are less intrusive and intimidating than the canines".

The idea of training mice as bomb-sniffers started in 2000-2001 and a small technological display of the mechanism was recently undertaken during a December, 2010 national exhibition.

Israeli experts placed the specially-trained mice in groups of four in special booths outside a Tel Aviv shopping mall where more than 1,000 people passed through including 20 test subjects carrying suspect material...and the sniffer mice came through with flying colours.

The mice are placed in specially made checkbooths linked to advanced computers and seconds after they nab a culprit, the alarm goes through computers in a whiff.

The sniffer mice have been found to be easily trained to smell out drugs, money and even remainders of pesticides and agricultural produce and were found to outdo even full body scanners and other detection machines.

The company now said it has a prototype of the system ready and may begun marketing it next year.

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