NEC is working on a suitcase-sized DNA analyzer

The device will prepare DNA samples in the field for matching with DNA databases

NEC is working on a suitcase-sized DNA analyzer, which it says will be able to process samples at the scene of a crime or disaster in as little as 25 minutes.

The company said it aims to launch the device globally in 2014, and sell it for around 10 million yen, or US$120,000. It will output samples that can be quickly matched via the growing number of DNA databases worldwide.

"At first we will target investigative organizations, like police," said spokeswoman Marita Takahashi. "We will also push its use on victims of natural disasters, to quickly match samples from siblings and parents."

NEC hopes to use research and software from its mature fingerprint and facial matching technology, which have been deployed in everyday devices such as smartphones and ATMs.

The company said that the need for cheaper and faster DNA testing became clear in the aftermath of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that devasted much of Japan's northeast coastline last year, when authorities performed nearly 20,000 samples.

NEC pointed to growing databases such as CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) in the U.S. and a Japanese database of DNA samples.

The company said it is aiming to make the device usable for those with minimal training, requiring only a cotton swab or small blood sample. NEC aims to make a device that weighs around 35 kilograms, measuring 850 millimeters by 552mm by 240mm, about the size of a large suitcase. The unit will run on a 12V power source.

NEC said it will be able to complete three-stage analysis process using a "lab on a chip" process, a term for for technology that recreates lab processes on chip-sized components. The basic steps for analysis include extracting DNA from samples, amplifying the DNA for analysis, and then separating out the different DNA strands.

The current version of the analyzer takes about an hour for all three tasks, and NEC said it aims to lower that to 25 minutes.

NEC it is carrying out the development of the analyzer together with partners including Promega, a U.S. biotechnology firm, and is testing it with a police science research institute in Japan.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags popular sciencehealth careindustry verticalsgovernmentNEC

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jay Alabaster

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?