The breathalyzer can sniff out illnesses in real time and could connect to your phone | US News

A new breathalyzer sniffs out COVID in real time and could be used to detect lung disease and cancer.

The laser breathalyzer is currently about the size of a large table, but scientists hope to scale it down so it’s small enough to plug into a phone.

Study senior author Jun Ye, a physics professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, said the potential of the technology is “infinite.”

“There is a real and foreseeable future where you could go to the doctor and have your breathing measured along with your height and weight,” she said.

“Or you could blow into a microphone built into your phone and get real-time health insights.”

The initial study using the breathalyzer, which is powered by artificial intelligence, found this COVID-19 in real time with excellent accuracy.

Between May 2021 and January 2022, the research team collected breath samples from 170 people who had been tested for COVID. Half tested positive, half negative.

Compared to the PCR results, the breathalyzer was right 85% of the time. For medical diagnostics, an accuracy of 80% or better is considered “excellent”.

The breathalyzer consists of a complex construction of lasers and mirrors. The breath sample is piped in as the lasers emit invisible mid-infrared light at thousands of different frequencies.

Because each type of molecule absorbs light differently, breath samples with a different molecular composition cast distinct shadows.

The machine interprets these shadows and can determine – in the case of COVID – whether the sample is positive or negative.

The team is now looking at a number of other diseases in the hope that the breathalyzer could revolutionize medical diagnostics.

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First author Qizhong Liang, a PhD candidate at CU Boulder, explained how artificial intelligence has been used to power the technology.

“Molecules rise or fall in concentrations when associated with specific health conditions,” he said.

“Machine learning analyzes this information, identifies patterns, and develops criteria that we can use to predict a diagnosis.”

He added that the findings show “considerable potential for the diagnosis of diverse conditions and disease states.”

Unlike other tests, the breathalyzer is non-invasive and could also be used on unconscious patients.


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