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The 'Star Trek' skin scanner that knows if you're sick
Researchers in Berlin have developed a hand-held scanner that can measure patients' general health just by scanning their skin. Is the future here already?
This small optical scanner can rate your overall health by detecting antioxidant levels in the body.
This small optical scanner can rate your overall health by detecting antioxidant levels in the body.
Opsolution NanoPhotonics GmbH
W

e haven't mastered teleportation yet, but scientists have brought at least one gadget from Star Trek to life... sort of. German doctors have developed a small optical scanner that can measure your overall health by briefly touching your skin — think the "tricorder" on the Starship Enterprise. The device is already being tested on 19-year-old German students. So how does it work? And when can we get our hands on one?

How does it measure wellness?
The scanner uses light beams to detect the concentration of antioxidants in a patient's skin. In as little as 30 seconds, it will rate your antioxidant levels, and presumably your general health, on a scale of 1 (bad) to 10 (good).

What do antioxidants have to do with health?
Researchers believe the level of antioxidants in your skin is "a good indicator of your overall body health, since it is affected by stress, smoking, alcohol drinking, unhealthy food, lack of sleep, and UV radiation," says Jesus Diaz in Gizmodo. Antioxidants also sop up oxygen molecules blamed for contributing to aging, not to mention heart disease and Alzheimer's.

Where can I get one?
People in Europe will be able to buy them as soon as this summer, for $280. The rest of us will just have to keep waiting.

How does it fall short of the "tricorder?"
In Star Trek, Dr. Bones McCoy could diagnose and treat specific diseases with the touch of his tricorder. This scanner, on the other hand, "is not designed to detect specific diseases, just your overall health level," says Diaz. Still, Diaz says, "I never thought I would live to see something like this."

Sources: Daily Mail, Gizmodo, HelaBlog

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