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Toshiba has just added a new meaning to bad breath by introducing a medical breathalyzer that the company says can diagnose diseases by analyzing the air a patient exhales.
The breath analyzer prototype blasts a patient’s exhaled breath with a quantum cascade laser. The Gaseous compounds in the patient’s breath absorb energy from the laser, then emit the energy in measurable forms that are unique to each compound. The energy emitted is then analyzed, through a process known as spectroscopy.
The device can detect acetone (an indicator of diabetes), acetaldehyde (responsible for hangovers) and methane (whose levels indicate a patient’s intestinal health). The company says, the device being used to guide diet, exercise, and nutritional support.
But Toshiba cannot claim to be the inventor of a technique used to diagnose disease by a patient’s breath. Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates suggested certain breath smells indicated liver disease, and modern doctors know that acetone-scented breath can indicate a severe problem in patients with diabetes.
Toshiba will begin studying the machine’s ability to correlate acetone concentrations with fat metabolism next month.
“Hold your breath as it may reveal your deep secrets.”