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Doing drugs? Beware this fingerprinting device

In a matter of minutes, the portable device can detect the presence of a wide range of drugs using dyed antibodies that, as we reported back in July, stick to metabolites in the sweat of the fingerprints and change color depending on the presence of drugs.

hand held drug test finger print “The launch of this prototype is a significant milestone,” Paul Yaltes of development firm Intelligent Fingerprinting said in a statement. “There has already been considerable worldwide interest in the use of the technology for testing within a wide range of applications, including criminal justice forensic science, homeland security, and institutional testing such as prisons and workplaces.”

The device uses disposable cartridges to test for illicit drugs and other substances, ranging from cannabis and cocaine to nicotine. The firm describes the imaging of the print as containing a “watertight chain of evidence continuity” that is almost impossible to cheat.

The prototype, scheduled to go into full production in 2012, is going to be a dream for drug testers. Not only is it fast, but it involves no special handling training or biohazard precautions.

I can see it now. A future app for parents who grow suspicious after every broken curfew. One thing’s for sure: the street price of clean urine is about to plummet.

By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore