Feeds

Fingerprint scanner can detect drugs in sweat

It knows if you’ve been bad or good

The essential guide to IT transformation

A prototype fingerprint scanner has been developed that can detect the presence of opiates, cannabis, or cocaine in the sweat on a user's fingertip.

The device uses special cartridges to take a fingerprint, which are then processed using both chemical testing and a unique photo scanning system. This takes a high resolution image of the fingerprint and its residue, so that the output from individual sweat pores can be measured.

Drug detecting fingerprint scanner

Coming soon to a checkpoint near you

“We were concerned if you touched a spliff, or shook hands with someone who had, it would leave a residue on the hands,” Dr Paul Yates, business development manager at University of East Anglia (UEA) spinoff firm Intelligent Fingerprinting, told The Register. “By using this system you can correlate the metabolites directly to the sweat pores on the fingerprint and avoid false positives.

The testing mechanism is sensitive enough to pick up substances with a molecular weight of between 100 and 600, and initially the team is focusing on illegal drug detection. Looking forward, however, it would be possible to use the scanner for detecting hormonal markers, opening up a variety of medical uses from detecting pregnancy to early-onset cancer.

The device was originally developed at UEA and was first tested on students – but not for illegal drugs. Professor David Russell from UEA’s chemistry department, and Intelligent Fingerprinting’s CTO, used the machine to detect cotinine, the metabolite of nicotine, on fingerprints, and then matched them to smokers.

Sadly for students, the laws of the land don’t allow researchers to feed them opiates or cocaine, so the testing for illegal drugs was carried out in association with Kings College’s drug rehabilitation unit. Sweat samples from drug users were taken for testing and cross-matched against urine samples.

So far the device is still in the prototype stage, but with a million or so in funding, Dr. Yates said that the scanner could move into production very quickly. If the device takes off, it will make travelling in certain locales quite risky, since some countries – notably Dubai – have such strict anti-drug laws that even having drugs in your bloodstream counts as importation. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine
Activists told NOT to snap pics of staff at the concrete doughnut
What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?
Stop bitching about firearms fees - we need computerisation
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.