Deep Sensing Algorithms' breathalyser
 Deep Sensing Algorithms believes its breathalyser could also capable of detecting the biomarkers of diseases such as lung and intestinal cancers. Image: Deep Sensing Algorithms

Cheap and quick coronavirus breath test set for trial in Helsinki

Employees at Laakso Health Station in Helsinki are gearing up to start testing people for the novel coronavirus with a breathalyser that is believed to be capable of detecting the biomarkers of various diseases in exhaled breath.

Aleksi Teivainen


The breathalyser could become the fastest and most affordable test for the rampant virus, as it generates a diagnosis in about two minutes at a cost of only two euros, according to Forum Virium Helsinki, an innovation company owned by the City of Helsinki.

The potentially groundbreaking device measures the exhale breath of the test subject over a 30-second period for volatile organic compounds, or metabolic biomarkers, with its built-in nanosensors. The measurements are sent to a cloud-based diagnostic algorithm that generates the diagnosis utilising artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The technology has been developed in a project funded by the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council by Forum Virium Helsinki and Deep Sensing Algorithms, a software firm based in Tampere.

“Let’s look at testing the entire Finnish population in ten days as an example. The cost of testing would be negligibly small compared to that of large-scale restrictions,” highlighted Pekka Rissanen, CEO of Deep Sensing Algorithms.”

“We are engaged in innovative co-operation with companies to solve the coronavirus crisis and helping companies to use the city as a test bed,” added Mika Malin, CEO of Forum Virium Helsinki.

“We are utilising artificial intelligence and digitalisation, just like one should in the world’s most functional city.”

Patients arriving at the health station for a coronavirus test will be asked for a permission to conduct the breathalyser test and, regardless of whether or not the permission is granted, subjected to a standard test. The device is to be tested also in Kazakhstan and, later, in the Netherlands and the US.

Deep Sensing Algorithms expects to deliver the first batch of the breathalysers in August.

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