Signal and information processing for sensing systems

Santiago Marco Colás | Group Leader
Agustín Gutiérrez Gálvez | Senior Researcher
Jordi Fonollosa Magrinyà | Postdoctoral Researcher
Jia Yan | Postdoctoral Researcher
Javier Burgués Calderón | PhD Student
Ana Maria Solórzano Soria | PhD Student
Lluís Fernández Romero | Laboratory Technician
Silvia Mas Garcia | Laboratory Technician
Oihane Amundarain Martín | Masters Student
Sergio Macias Pulgar | Masters Student


santi2015_1Current smart instrumentation using multi-sensors and/or spectrometers provides a wealth of data that requires sophisticated signal and data processing approaches in order to extract the hidden information.

Left: System to test chemical sensor arrays for diversity and redundancy

In this context, we are interested in intelligent chemical instruments for the detection of volatile compounds and smells.

These systems can be based on an array of nonspecific chemical sensors with a pattern recognition system , taking inspiration from the olfactory system. Some spectrometries, e.g. Ion Mobility Spectrometry, are capable of very fast analysis with good detection limits but poor selectivity. These technologies have been proposed for the fast determination of the volatolome (volatile fraction of the metabolome), instead of the reference technique of gas chromatography – mass spectrometry.

santi2015_2Our group develops algorithmic solutions for the automatic processing of Gas Sensor Array, Ion Mobility Spectrometry (IMS) and Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) data for metabolomics and food samples.

In a parallel activity, our group is working on the detection of drowsiness in drivers using vehicle dynamic measures.

Right: System to test chemical chemical sensors for malodour detection

Our research in 2015 included the following:

Signal and Data Processing for smart chemical Instrumentation:

  • In hyphenated techniques based in fast chromatography coelution is a common problem. Usually coelution can be separated using blind source separation techniques if we segment the data portion where coelution occurs. Here we have proposed a methodology for automatic analysis of samples from Gas Chromatography – Ion Mobility Spectrometry based on a sliding window blind source separation.
  • We have proven that Reservoir computing algorithms can compensate the slow response of chemosensors exposed to fast varying concentrations of the target analytes.
  • Inspired by nature (olfactory system), we have characterized how redundancy in chemical sensor arrays improves robustness to diverse types of sensor failures
  • We have built a biomimetic olfactory system implementing controlled sniffing to show that gas flow modulation improves early odorant detection.
  • In collaboration with Universitat de Lleida (Dr. J. Palacin) and University of Örebro (Prof. A. Lilienthal) we are testing chemical source localization algorithms with autonomous robots.


  • The detection of regulatory regions in candidate sequences is essential for the understanding of the regulation of a particular gene and the mechanisms involved. This paper proposes a novel methodology based on information theoretic metrics for finding regulatory sequences in promoter regions. Results This methodology (SIGMA) has been tested on genomic sequence data for Homo sapiens and Mus musculus. SIGMA has been compared with different publicly available alternatives for motif detection.

Computational Neuroscience:

  • We often learn and recall sequences in smaller segments (or chunks). In collaboration with the University of San Diego, we studied the temporal dynamics of chunking for learning cognitive sequences using a dynamical model of competing nodes arraged to evoke a hierarchical winnerless competition dynamics. The resulting patterns of activities share features observed in behavioural experiments, such as the pauses between boundaries of chunks, their size and duration.


Left: The SAFESENS project aims to produce personal health monitors for emergency personnel including toxic hazards detection


Three minutes of fame

IBEC PhD student Ana Solorzano has been selected as one of the 10 finalists from 300 participants in a “Thesis in 3 Minutes” competition that will take place at the 2016 Jornadas de Cooperación CONACyT-Catalunya (JCCC) next week.

How we learn in chunks – and what it means for the brain

In some research conducted with his colleagues at the University of California San Diego, IBEC senior researcher Jordi Fonollosa has shed some light on the mechanisms behind how we memorize sequences – as well as how failures in these mechanisms can provide insight into neurological disorders.

Olfactory system segregates odour data at moment of input

We all know how emotive smells can be; just the mere whiff of candy floss or plasticine can transport you back decades in a moment. But how does our olfactory system recognise odours even at very low doses? Now, IBEC’s Signal and Information Processing for Sensing Systems group has uncovered how we immediately and strongly identify smells even when their concentrations are very low, essentially segregating information about identification and concentration in order to be able to recognise the odour.

“Buenos días, robot”

IBEC group leaders Alícia Casals and Santiago Marco feature in a Sunday supplement about robots in La Vanguardia this week.

Is the poison/explosive/biomarker really there?

A paper by IBEC’s Signal and Information Processing for Sensing Systems group and their collaborators is the featured article and appears on the cover of the latest issue of Analytica Chimica Acta.

”Nova aplicació mòbil que detecta la somnolència al volant”

Santiago Marco is interviewed in a video for UBTV about Somnoalert®, the mobile technology his group developed with the UB and industry partner FICOSA to detect drowsiness while driving.

“El laboratori al ‘Connexió’: El nas electrònic del IBEC”

PhD student Sergio Oller from the Signal and Information Processing for Sensing Systems talking about the group’s research into the development of electronic noses based on the mammalian olfactory system.

“Una aplicación detecta la somnolencia al volante”

Further coverage of the driver drowsiness alerter Somnoalert® developed by IBEC and Ficosa has appeared today in El Mundo and

“Ficosa, IBEC y la UPC crean un aplicación para detectar la somnolencia al volante”

Monday’s press release about the driver drowsiness alerter Somnoalert® developed by IBEC and Ficosa got lots of coverage in the news this week, including in La Vanguardia, TeleCinco and El Economista.

IBEC, UB and FICOSA join forces to develop a mobile application to detect drowsiness while driving

A new technology to combat dozing off when driving developed by IBEC, UB and industry partner Ficosa will be presented at this week’s GSMA World Mobile Congress in Barcelona.

A new name for the AO group

Santiago Marco’s research group at IBEC has changed its name and will now be known as the Signal and Information Processing for Sensing Systems group.

How the nose knows

The mammalian sense of smell is an excellent chemical sensing system that far outshines any man-made reproduction, so researchers have long been trying to analyze and recreate the animal olfactory system to develop artificial ‘noses’. Now researchers at IBEC have shed new light on this highly efficient system that could allow better chemical sensing systems with important applications in such critical areas as health, security or the food industry.

Santiago Marco elected president of ISOCS

At the General Assembly of the International Society of Olfaction and Chemical Sensing at Rockefeller University, New York, Artificial Olfaction group leader Santiago Marco was elected President of the society for a period of two years.

Neurochem’s Workshop on Bioinspired Computation for Chemical Sensing

Last week the University of Barcelona, as a coordinator of the EU-FP7 Neurochem Project, joined with IBEC to organize the Workshop on Bioinspired Computation for Chemical Sensing, which was held on 9-11 March at the Hotel Senator in Barcelona. The focus of the workshop was on signal processing techniques inspired by the olfactory system and computational models of the biological olfactory pathway.

Smelling by minispectrometer provides fast determination of wine origin

Wine fraud is a growing problem, with experts estimating that up to 10% of the wines offered to consumers in some European countries are of a lesser quality than the label claims. It’s an issue that affects everyone from expert collectors to average consumers, and is such a concern in some countries that drastic measures have been taken: the Italian Carabinieri Corps, for instance, has educated 25 of their officers as sommeliers.

IBEC hosts Summer School 2009 of International Society for Olfaction and Chemical Sensing

The research team of Artificial Olfaction at IBEC, led by Santiago Marco, organized the Summer School of the International Society for Olfaction and Chemical Sensing (ISOCS). It was held from September 28th, to October 2nd of 2009, at Sant Andreu de Llavaneres, Barcelona, Spain. This Summer School was supported by the FP7 Neurochem European project, coordinated by the IBEC’s research team.


EU-funded projects
SAFESENS Sensor Technologies for Enhanced Safety and Security of Buildings and its Occupants ENIAC Joint Undertaking Santiago Marco
National projects
SMART-IMS Procesado de Señal para Espectroscopia de Movilidad de Iones: Análisis de Fluidos Biomédicos y Detección de Sustancias Tóxicas MINECO, I+D-Investigación fundamental no orientada Santiago Marco
Transducción biomimética para olfacción artificial MINECO, EUROPA EXCELENCIA Agustín Gutiérrez
BIOENCODE Estudio comparativo de la capacidad de codificación de información química de sistemas biológicos y artificiales MINECO, I+D-Investigación fundamental no orientada Agustín Gutiérrez
SENSIBLE Sensores inteligentes para edificios más seguros MINECO, Acciones de Programación Conjunta Internacional Santiago Marco
SIGVOL Mejora de la señal para instrumentación química: aplicaciones en metabolómica de volátiles y en olfacción MINECO, Retos investigación: Proyectos I+D Santiago Marco
Privately-funded projects
Analisis de tapones de corcho por espectroscopia de movilidad de iones M3C INDUSTRIAL AUTOMATION & VISION, S.L. Santiago Marco
Sensor test for indoor air quality and safety applications BSH Electrodomesticos España S.A. Santiago Marco
Preparació i realització d’un curs de processat de senyal per sensors químics de dos dies a BSH Zaragoza BSH Electrodomesticos España S.A. Santiago Marco


Fonollosa, J., Fernández, L., Gutiérrez-Gálvez, A., Huerta, R., Marco, S., (2016). Calibration transfer and drift counteraction in chemical sensor arrays using Direct Standardization Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical 236, 1044-1053

Fernandez, L., Guney, S., Gutierrez-Galvez, A., Marco, S., (2016). Calibration transfer in temperature modulated gas sensor arrays Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical 231, 276-284

Huerta, R., Mosqueiro, T., Fonollosa, J., Rulkov, N.F., Rodríguez-Lujan, I., (2016). Online decorrelation of humidity and temperature in chemical sensors for continuous monitoring Chemometrics and Intelligent Laboratory Systems 157, 169-176

Martínez, D., Moreno, J., Tresanchez, M., Clotet, E., Jiménez-Soto, J.M., Magrans, R., Pardo, A., Marco, S., Palacín, J., (2016). Measuring gas concentration and wind intensity in a turbulent wind tunnel with a mobile robot Journal of Sensors 2016, Article ID 7184980

Ziyatdinov, Andrey, Fonollosa, Jordi, Fernández, Luis, Gutiérrez-Gálvez, Agustín, Marco, Santiago, Perera, Alexandre, (2015). Data set from gas sensor array under flow modulation Data in Brief 3, 131-136

Ziyatdinov, Andrey, Fonollosa, Jordi, Fernánndez, Luis, Gutierrez-Gálvez, Agustín, Marco, Santiago, Perera, Alexandre, (2015). Bioinspired early detection through gas flow modulation in chemo-sensory systems Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical 206, 538-547

Fonollosa, J., Sheik, S., Huerta, R., Marco, S., (2015). Reservoir computing compensates slow response of chemosensor arrays exposed to fast varying gas concentrations in continuous monitoring Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical 215, 618-629

Fernandez, L., Marco, S., Gutierrez-Galvez, A., (2015). Robustness to sensor damage of a highly redundant gas sensor array Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical 218, 296-302

Fonollosa, Jordi, Neftci, Emre, Rabinovich, Mikhail, (2015). Learning of chunking sequences in cognition and behavior Plos Computational Biology 11, 11, e1004592

Maynou, Joan, Pairo, Erola, Marco, Santiago, Perera, Alexandre, (2015). Sequence information gain based motif analysis BMC Bioinformatics 16, 1, 377

Fonollosa, J., Neftci, E., Huerta, R., Marco, S., (2015). Evaluation of calibration transfer strategies between Metal Oxide gas sensor arrays Procedia Engineering Elsevier 120, 261-264

Oller-Moreno, S., Singla-Buxarrais, G., Jiménez-Soto, J. M., Pardo, Antonio, Garrido-Delgado, R., Arce, L., Marco, Santiago, (2015). Sliding window multi-curve resolution: Application to gas chromatography - Ion Mobility Spectrometry Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical Elsevier 217, 13-21

Palleja, T., Balsa, R., Tresanchez, M., Moreno, J., Teixido, M., Font, D., Marco, S., Pomareda, V., Palacin, J., (2014). Corridor gas-leak localization using a mobile Robot with a photo ionization detector sensor Sensor Letters 12, 6-7, 974-977

Fonollosa, Jordi, Vergara, Alexander, Huerta, R., Marco, Santiago, (2014). Estimation of the limit of detection using information theory measures Analytica Chimica Acta 810, 1-9

Fresco-Cala, B., Jimenez-Soto, J. M., Cardenas, S., Valcarcel, M., (2014). Single-walled carbon nanohorns immobilized on a microporous hollow polypropylene fiber as a sorbent for the extraction of volatile organic compounds from water samples Microchimica Acta 181, 9-10, 1117-1124

Marco, Santiago, (2014). The need for external validation in machine olfaction: emphasis on health-related applications Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry Springer Berlin Heidelberg 406, 16, 3941-3956

Polese, Davide, Martinelli, Eugenio, Marco, Santiago, Di Natale, Corrado, Gutierrez-Galvez, Agustin, (2014). Understanding odor information segregation in the olfactory bulb by means of mitral and tufted cells PLoS ONE Public Library of Science 9, 10, e109716

Martinez, Dani, Teixidó, Mercè, Font, Davinia, Moreno, Javier, Tresanchez, Marcel, Marco, Santiago, Palacín, Jordi, (2014). Ambient intelligence application based on environmental measurements performed with an assistant mobile robot Sensors 14, 4, 6045-6055

Bennetts, Victor, Schaffernicht, Erik, Pomareda, Victor, Lilienthal, Achim, Marco, Santiago, Trincavelli, Marco, (2014). Combining non selective gas sensors on a mobile robot for identification and mapping of multiple chemical compounds Sensors 14, 9, 17331-17352

Marco, S., Gutiérrez-Gálvez, A., Lansner, A., Martinez, D., Rospars, J. P., Beccherelli, R., Perera, A., Pearce, T. C., Verschure, P. F. M. J., Persaud, K., (2014). A biomimetic approach to machine olfaction, featuring a very large-scale chemical sensor array and embedded neuro-bio-inspired computation Microsystem Technologies 20, 4-5, 729-742

Oller-Moreno, S., Pardo, A., Jimenez-Soto, J. M., Samitier, J., Marco, S., (2014). Adaptive Asymmetric Least Squares baseline estimation for analytical instruments SSD 2014 Proceedings IEEE , 1569846703

Fernandez, L., Marco, S., (2014). Calibration transfer between e-noses Signal Processing and Communications Applications Conference (SIU) IEEE , 650-653

Sheik, S., Marco, S., Huerta, R., Fonollosa, J., (2014). Continuous prediction in chemoresisitive gas sensors using reservoir computing Procedia Engineering Eurosensors 87, 843-846

Martínez, D., Moreno, J., Tresanchez, M., Teixidó, M., Font, D., Pardo, A., Marco, S., Palacín, J., (2014). Experimental application of an autonomous mobile robot for gas leak detection in indoor environments IEEE , 1-6

Martínez, D., Moreno, J., Tresanchez, M., Teixidó, M., Palací, J., Marco, S., (2014). Preliminary results on measuring gas and wind intensity with a mobile robot in an indoor area ETFA 2014 IEEE , 1-5

Fernandez, L., Gutierrez-Galvez, A., Marco, S., (2014). Robustness to sensor damage of a highly redundant gas sensor array Procedia Engineering Eurosensors 87, 851-854

Martínez, Dani, Pallejà, T., Moreno, Javier, Tresanchez, Marcel, Teixidó, M., Font, Davinia, Pardo, Antonio, Marco, Santiago, Palacín, Jordi, (2014). A mobile robot agent for gas leak source detection Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing Springer International Publishing 293, 19-25

Karpas, Z., Guamán, A. V., Pardo, A., Marco, S., (2013). Comparison of the performance of three ion mobility spectrometers for measurement of biogenic amines Analytica Chimica Acta 758, 3, 122-129

Pomareda, Victor, Lopez-Vidal, Silvia, Calvo, Daniel, Pardo, Antonio, Marco, Santiago, (2013). A novel differential mobility analyzer as VOCs detector and multivariate techniques for identification and quantification Analyst 138, 12, 3512-3521

Ziyatdinov, A., Diaz, E. Fernández, Chaudry, A., Marco, S., Persaud, K., Perera, A., (2013). A software tool for large-scale synthetic experiments based on polymeric sensor arrays Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical 177, 596-604

Fonollosa, Jordi, Fernérndez, Luis, Huerta, Ramón, Gutiérrez-Gálvez, Agustín, Marco, Santiago, (2013). Temperature optimization of metal oxide sensor arrays using Mutual Information Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical Elsevier 187, 0, 331-339

Marco, S., Gutiérrez-Gálvez, A., Lansner, A., Martinez, D., Rospars, J. P., Beccherelli, R., Perera, A., Pearce, T., Vershure, P., Persaud, K., (2013). Biologically inspired large scale chemical sensor arrays and embedded data processing Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering SPIE Digital Library 8763, 1-15

Santano-Martínez, R., Leiva-González, R., Avazbeigi, M., Gutiérrez-Gálvez, A., Marco, S., (2013). Identification of molecular properties coding areas in rat's olfactory bulb by rank products Proceedings of the International Conference on Bio-Inspired Systems and Signal Processing SciTePress , 383-387

Fernandez, L., Gutierrez-Galvez, A., Marco, S., (2013). Multi-way analysis of diversity and redundancy factors in large MOX gas sensor data Metal Oxide-based Sensors AMA Science Portal P2.07, 1279-1280

Hernandez Bennetts, V. M., Lilienthal, A. J., Khaliq, A. A., Pomareda Sese, V., Trincavelli, M., (2013). Towards real-world gas distribution mapping and leak localization using a mobile robot with 3d and remote gas sensing capabilities IEEE , 2335-2340

Gutiérrez-Gálvez, A., Marco, S., (2013). Study of the coding efficiency of populations of olfactory receptor neurons and olfactory glomeruli Frontiers in Neuroengineering Series CRC Press , 59-82

Persaud, K. , Marco, S., Gutiérrez-Gálvez, A., (2013). Neuromorphic Olfaction Frontiers in Neuroengineering Series CRC Press ,


  • Anemometer – PCE-Instruments
  • Gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer (Thermoscientific) with robotic head-space sampler
  • 2 Infusion pumps K-systems
  • 6 channel vapor generator plus humidity control (Owlstone, UK)
  • Ion Mobility Spectrometer: Gas Detector Array (Airsense Analytics GmbH)
  • Computing and General Purpose Electronic Instrumentation
  • Field Asymmetric Ion Mobility Spectrometer (Owlstone, UK)
  • Corona Discharge Ion Mobility Spectrometer (3QBD, Israel)
  • Ultraviolet Ion Mobility Spectrometer (Gas Dortmund, Germany)


  • Dr. Lourdes Arce
    Dept. Química Analítica, Universidad de Córdoba, Spain
  • Dr. Alexandre Perera
    Centre de Recerca en Enginyeria Biomèdica, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain
  • Dr. J. Fonollosa and Prof. Ramon Huerta
    Biocircuits Lab, University of California in San Diego, USA
  • Prof. J. W. Gardner
    Microsensors and Bioelectronics Lab, Dept. of Electric and Electronic Engineering, University of Warwick, UK
  • Prof. Achim Lilienthal and Dr. Marco Trincavelli
    Mobile Robotics and Olfaction Lab, University of Örebro, Sweden
  • Dr. Ivan Montoliu
    Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences, Laussane, Switzerland
  • Dr. Jordi Palacín
    Robotics Lab, Universitat de Lleida, Spain

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