Going on a date? Not sure if you have bad breath? Well, a new device is hitting the market soon called Mint that may be able to tell. We were curious about the technology in the Mint and took the opportunity to interview Carla Brenner, the director of business development of Breathometer, Inc., the company that developed the Mint.
Joshua Chen, Medgadget: What is Breathometer?
Carla Brenner: Breathometer is a company that has a breath analysis platform in which our third product will actually be in the healthcare market. We are launching our new product in the third quarter of 2015. The device we are working on is used for detecting oral health and hydration levels within your mouth. It actually looks at the volatile sulfur compounds in your mouth that are a byproduct of the bad bacteria that you do not want in your mouth.
Medgadget: Where did the company start off and how did it end up doing breath analysis?
Carla Brenner: We actually launched a little over two years ago on Shark Tank with our original breath product for ethanol. That was extremely successful so we went on to launch our second product which was a Bluetooth connected breathalyzer that is called Breeze. That product has also been extremely successful in early adopters to actually engage in alcohol consumption but it is really about health and wellness and really knowing your number around your legal limit. From the info that we’ve been able to gather, from the product, we now took those findings into a new product to better save lives. And so we have this platform in health care with multiple products that are targeting different diseases within this space. Our first product is Mint, and you’ll be able to get product recommendation, tips and education tools based on the levels of bacteria in your mouth.
Medgadget: Can you describe in more detail how the analysis of the bacteria in the mouth works? (ie. what bacteria are you looking for, what types of sensors are used in the device?)
Carla Brenner: Volatile Sulfur Compounds (VSCs) are created by anaerobic bacteria biofilms in the mouth. VSCs can be elevated by certain foods and beverages you consume and may also indicate gum disease and tooth decay. In all cases, elevated VSCs can reduce breath quality and increase social anxiety about your breath. Our Breath Quality Sensor is measuring: Hydrogen Sulfide, Methyl Mercapthan and Hydrogen Disulfide levels in parts per billion. We use an electrochemical fuel cell and other sensors for detection.
Medgadget: What was the target audience of the Breeze and the Mint?
Carla Brenner: For the Breeze, the consumer base ranges from 25-35 years of age. We’re actually finding users to be using the product very casually, putting them in the purse, the pocket etc. Furthermore, mostly male individuals are using the product, but we’re also seeing a large adoption in female users that have been really excited to know what their legal limit is. It’s easy to purchase as a gift for family and friends.
For the Mint, 50% of the US market has halitosis, or bad breath, that can cause social anxiety when going into meetings or feeling uncomfortable on a date for example. That is one area. We are also trying to solve the long term issue of overall health. The first problem is the short term, in the moment: how is your breath? Number two, is your overall oral health to help you determine how well and how you can prevent future diseases. The target audience is anyone. We’re starting with early adopters with younger generations as they are early adopters of technology, but eventually anyone can use the products. The only requirement to use this technology is to have a smartphone.
Medgadget: How long did the research and development take for the Mint?
Carla Brenner: It was pretty rapid prototyping to be able to take from concept to actually launch was less than a year.
Medgadget: Are there any limitations and/or road blocks on developing this technology?
Carla Brenner: In terms of major road blocks, breath analysis involves doing measurements in a complex mixture of chemicals, pulling specific biomarkers out of the mixer and measuring them in parts per billion. This requires a deep understanding of both the biological and sensing systems.
Medgadget: What are the company’s future goals? Do you anticipate any collaborations with any other health care company?
Carla Brenner: We are taking the learning of the ethanol products to the healthcare products. We anticipate getting more into the health care and really becoming a holistic company. With this entrance into the market space. We are already in discussions with digital health care partners and we already work with clinics and other institutions. We actually offer the only platform that is connected to the smartphone. We have information that is like a feedback loop, and now you can learn more about yourself and how you’re interacting with your alcohol. We’re coming out with additional features. We also have a program more about knowing your number rather than the legal limit because the limit can be different for everyone. Furthermore, we have integrations on the app with Uber, so if you have any detection of alcohol in your breath, it will automatically connect you to request an Uber, or get home safe with get home safe through Hotel Tonight which is also integrated within our app. Also, it’ll tell you how long you need to wait before you’re alcohol levels are back to zero.
Indiegogo link: Breathometer Mint for Breath Quality and Hydration