The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) has developed findNano, an application for Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch that lets users discover and determine whether consumer products are nanotechnology-enabled. Nanotechnology, the emerging technology of using materials by engineering them at an incredibly small scale, has applications ranging from consumer electronics to improved drug delivery systems.
findNano allows users to browse an inventory of more than 1,000 nanotechnology-enabled consumer products, from sporting goods to food products and electronics to toys, using the iPhone and iPod Touch. Using the built-in camera, iPhone users can even submit new nanotech products to be included in future inventory updates.
The new application makes PEN's unique Consumer Products Inventory more accessible for today's consumers. The inventory, which was launched in 2006, is the leading source of information on manufacturer-identified nanotechnology consumer products around the world.
"The Consumer Products Inventory provides valuable insight into the world of nanotech consumer products, and now it's even easier to access because of findNano," says PEN Research Associate Patrick Polischuk. "This innovative tool satisfies the needs of citizen scientists, tech-savvy consumers, and those who are merely curious about whether products contain nanomaterials."
The number of nanotech products in the inventory has risen from approximately 200 in 2006 to more than 1,000 today. But this is most likely an underestimate of the number of products using nanotechnology available worldwide. To help develop better estimates of the number of nano-based products in commerce, the iPhone app allows users to submit information on new products, including product name and where the product can be purchased.
Using findNano, users can take or select a photo of a possible nanotech product and submit it for inclusion in the PEN inventory. This feature will help consumers, researchers, and policymakers determine how-and where-nanotechnologies are entering the marketplace.
findNano is available as a free download for the iPhone and iPod Touch, and can be found in the iTunes App Store or at nanotechproject.org/iphone.