Once it has completed the testing phase, Hoorfar said she hopes to introduce the device to the market some time this year.
A new cannabis breathalyzer that uses a 3D-printed artificial “nose” is ready to be tested, according to its makers.
The University of British Columbia (UBC) Okanagan-developed machine has been designed to detect THC on a user’s breath, reported Mina Hoorfar, professor director of engineering at UBC Okanagan.
But despite the fact that the mechanism is new in the field of cannabis impairment testing, it’s not reliable enough to hold up in court, Hoorfar acknowledged. “Never, ever is a breath analzyer going to be the gold standard measurement,” she told Global News.
“After a certain element is shown in the breath, they’d take the person to the station, and then they’d conduct a thorough blood test,” Hoorfar explained.
The test is now being sent for further testing by Cannabix Technologies Inc., which is expected to get tests underway before March. But aside from its detection mechanism, how does the device differ from other roadside cannabis detectors already in use, such as the often-maligned saliva swab tests?
“For us, the first way to go and commercialize this is not road safety or police; we want to use it in the workplace for employers to use or for personal use,” Hoorfar explained. “Construction sites, for pilots, any place that people are trying to use their motor muscles and certain motions and they need to be tested.”
Hoorfar also said she thinks the technology could one day be used as a diagnostic tool in health care, and that it may be able to diagnose certain chronic illnesses, such as respiratory or metabolism-related issues.
“We know that everything in health is now related to the gut,” said Hoorfar, who is not a physician. “[Medical professionals could] use the breath from the breath biomarkers to know what’s happening in your gut and your health,” she noted, although these claims are unproven.
“One day, in the not so far future, we will have portable devices that can tell us if we have a particular illness, or if there are dangerous fumes in our vicinity,” she suggested.
Once the device has completed the testing phase, Hoorfar said she hopes to introduce the device to the market some time this year.
Written by Emma Spears