The device can be used to monitor disease progression and support activities like diet and exercise.
Japanese corporation Toshiba has developed a prototype breath analyzer designed for medical applications such as diagnosing and monitoring diseases.
The medical breathalyzer can detect various trace gases in a person’s breath and provide an indication of that person’s health. For example, the presence of acetone can be an indicator of diabetes and methane can be an indicator of intestinal health.
Toshiba envisions the device as a tool that can not only be used in diagnostics, but also as support for activities like diet and exercise.
The breath analyzer was built based on gas analysis technologies that the company has developed from its semiconductor and manufacturing businesses. When a person breathes into the device, the exhaled breath is charged with an infrared laser, and trace gases are detected based on how they absorb energy from the radiation.
Currently the device can detect acetone, methane, and acetaldehyde. To further develop the capabilities of the device, the company commissioned one of Japan’s leading research universities, Waseda University, to conduct clinical measurements of acetone concentration in exhaled breath and correlate results with fat metabolism. The experiment is a step towards understanding how to develop diets and supplements.
Toshiba will also work on enabling the device to detect other types of gases and plans to start production in 2015.