A new breathalyzer that sniffs out COVID in real time could be used to detect lung disease and cancer.
Currently, the laser-based breathalyzer is about the size of a large desk, but scientists hope to shrink it small enough to attach to a mobile phone.
The study’s senior author Jun Ye, a professor of physics at CU Boulder, said the technology’s potential is “endless.”
“In a real, foreseeable future, you can go to the doctor and have your breathing measured and your height and weight,” he said.
“Or you could blow into a mouthpiece integrated into your phone and get real-time information about your health.”
Preliminary study using AI-powered breathalyzer finds it detects Coronavirus disease Real-time and extremely accurate.
Between May 2021 and January 2022, the research team collected breath samples from 170 people who had been tested for COVID. Half the tests were positive and half were negative.
Compared to PCR results, the breathalyzer was correct 85% of the time. For medical diagnoses, an accuracy of 80 percent or better is considered “excellent.”
The breathalyzer consists of a complex structure of lasers and mirrors. A breath sample is delivered while a laser beams invisible mid-infrared light at it at thousands of different frequencies.
Breath samples with different molecular compositions cast different shadows because each molecule absorbs light differently.
The machine interprets these shadows and can determine — in the case of COVID — whether a sample is positive or negative.
The team is now studying a range of other diseases in the hope that the breathalyzer could revolutionize medical diagnosis.
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First author Qizhong Liang, a doctoral candidate at CU Boulder, explained how artificial intelligence is being used to power the technology.
“When associated with a particular health condition, the concentration of the molecule increases or decreases,” he said.
“Machine learning analyzes this information, identifying patterns and developing criteria that we can use to predict a diagnosis.”
The results show “remarkable potential for diagnosing a wide variety of conditions and disease states,” he added.
Unlike other tests, the breathalyzer is non-invasive and can even be used on unconscious patients.