The collaboration between Applied DNA Sciences and security company, SmokeCloak, has led to the creation of a fog-based security system, which traces intruders, using plant-based forensic markers. As soon as the alarm goes off, the system releases thick DNA fog, which fills the entire room, causing the criminal to have a blurry vision. The major advantage of the new technology is that it allows forensic professionals to trace the customized engineered DNA back to a particular crime scene. More importantly, these genetic markers can’t be easily removed from the skin for approximately three weeks. Zintro experts discuss how likely this new technology will succeed in the US.
Russell Stover, an expert in law enforcement and crime analysis, has some doubts about this technology even though he is quite optimistic about the possible applications. “How robust is this DNA against counter-agents? Plain old household bleach can break down DNA. Would it be effective against abrasive skin cleaners and pumice stones? It would only be effective if the perpetrators don’t know about it and aren’t ready for it, with coveralls, gloves, and masks. So putting up signs regarding it being in use could have the opposite effect of those where cameras are used,” notes Stover. “There is also the cost concerns. Cameras already do a good job of capturing people at the time and location of a crime; is the DNA Fog as cheap as cameras to challenge such a ubiquitous tool? Or will it be a product that is overpriced and over-hyped?” On the other hand, Stover thinks it is crucial for the technology to prove that it can actually work in parallel with the current security systems, in order to achieve success in the American market. “More importantly, DNA Fog has to show it can do this at a cost-benefit ratio that is attractive to security system consumers,” he adds. “Without that, it will be seen as little more than a James Bond-style gimmick.”
As Gary Howard, an expert in crime scene investigation indicates, this particular technology has already been sold in Europe, in two different forms for several years. “The first one is Smart Water, the DNA marker, which is set off following cash in transit robberies or sold to the public for marking their own kit. The other is a fog system, which I have used and seen in action many times,” Howard explains. “It’s a really good and wonderful idea to combine both.”
Psychologist and clinical researcher, Kevin Grimes shares his point of view based on his experience in neuroscience and international forensic psychology. “I have a relevant background in forensic-expert witnesses and ethics. The latter concerns research in ICT and neuroscience in an international consortium, the products of which also push the limits in society,” notes Grimes. “My expert witness work was local to a state in the NE USA, in civil and criminal areas. This is an interesting product idea and certainly pushes ethical boundaries despite its promise to provide benefit to those at risk.”
By Idil Kan
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