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DHS to Unveil Portable DNA Scanner

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The Department of Homeland Security will begin testing a portable, rapid DNA scanner this summer, according to a report on Nextgov.

The scanner, about the size of a laser printer, will return results in less than an hour and will be used for a host of applications — determining family relationships of refugees and cracking down on human trafficking, according to Nextgov.

At a biometrics conference this week, Christopher Miles, biometrics program manager for the DHS Office of Science and Technology, said the department is interested in the practical applications of the tool.

“We’re not about advancing the technology so much as integrating and automating it into a fieldable device,” he said.

While it has limited use now, in the future, it could be used to identify criminals or missing people, Miles said.

NetBio, a rapid DNA company based in Boston, developed the scanner, which uses digital microfluidics. The device cuts days or weeks from the process and nearly $500 compared to a traditional laboratory approach.

Rapid DNA scanning is the latest advance in the multimodality of biometrics, including such technologies as facial and voice recognition.

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