Now, a Star Trek like scanner that can measure your health

London: German scientists have developed a new handheld scanner which they say can tell accurately in less than 30 seconds how healthy or unhealthy you are.

Developed by a team at the Charite medical school in Berlin, the device has the ability to gauge the damage that bad habits such as smoking or a fondness for junk food are having on the body.

They expected that a version suitable for home use could be on sale by this summer for as little as 175 pounds, the Daily Mail reported.

A similar gadget called "tricorder" has already been shown in TV series "Star Trek" in which Dr McCoy aboard the fictional Starship Enterprise used it to diagnose and treat the crew.

But, researchers said the real-life equivalent will shock people into leading healthy lifestyles in the same way as standing on the bathroom scales jolts many into a diet.

The scanner, which looks like a computer mouse, works by creating a "fingerprint" of a person`s lifestyle by shining a beam of light at their body, collecting the reflected light and analysing it for information on which wavelengths have been absorbed.

This allows it to measure levels of health-boosting antioxidants in the skin.

Antioxidants are credited with warding off a host of diseases and keep ageing at bay by mopping up free radicals — dangerous oxygen molecules produced when food is turned into energy. Existing techniques for measuring antioxidants in the skin all require small samples to be cut away.

Professor Jurgen Lademann, who lead the project, said: "We have developed a non-evasive, protective system where the reflected light contains information about the level of antioxidants."

The scanner takes as little as 30 seconds to rate a person`s antioxidant level between one and 10. Changes in diet and lifestyle are also quickly picked up, he said.

"If you decide to change your lifestyle and eat salad tonight, you will see a small increase in the antioxidant reading tomorrow. If you eat salad every day, your reading will be higher still after three or four days," Prof Lademann said.

The device is being tested on 50 secondary school pupils in the hope that it will encourage them to address bad habits.

Prof Lademann, who admits to changing his own lifestyle after taking the test, said: "We expect that the behaviour of the students will change when they are quickly made aware of their own physical reaction to certain behaviours.