The nanny state lives and breathes – quite literally, in the form of a new kind of mobile phone that can check what's on our breath and inform the authorities of its findings.

Middlesex-based Applied Nanodetectors (AND) has come up with a chip that can analyse anyone's breath and look for indicators of health problems, including carbon dioxide, ammonia and nitrous oxide, as well as alcohol.

Auto pilot

The company has already built the device into a mobile phone with an air hole that lets it function similarly to an alcohol breathalyser – just blow and you're done.

While the bio-chip can detect lung cancer, diabetes, asthma and food poisoning, it's slightly worrying that the makers suggest its presence in a phone might allow doctors to be automatically notified.

Nokia talks

Still, knowing is surely better than not knowing, so it can't be long before blowing into a phone becomes as much a part of daily life as teeth brushing or showering.

AND is already in talks with Nokia about introducing the device in Europe and with Japanese networks about doing the same there.