Transforming Dreams Into Devices


The team at Agile Technologies has recently licensed an exciting innovation from Oak Ridge National Labs: a lightweight hand-held analyzer that uses visual and auditory cues to quickly alert investigators to the presence of buried human remains. The device is still under development and testing with plans to go live this fall.

The Lightweight Analyzer for Buried Remains And Decomposition Odor Recognition (LABRADOR) is a significant step forward in the field of forensic chemistry for clandestine grave detection.

Traditional detection using canines and ground-penetrating radar is often slow and unreliable. LABRADOR improves the ability to distinguish human decomposition from other chemical vapors in the atmosphere. Essentially, it works as an electronic sniffing tool. The human body releases more than 400 chemicals as it decomposes. Organic compounds, amino acids, inorganic constituents, and noxious gases are released at specific times and in specific ratios, leaving a chemical signature that uniquely characterizes the state of human decomposition.


  • Self-contained, portable, and field usable
  • Detects the specific chemicals identified in the database
  • Provides visual and auditory cues
  • Takes the guesswork out of current field methods that use canines and radar
  • Identifies the unique chemical signature associated with decomposition

Potential Applications

  • Law enforcement
  • Military
  • Intelligence operations
  • Anthropology and archeology

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