The United States' most elite soldiers have been collecting DNA samples from suspected terrorists for years. But because analysis normally takes three weeks, it's been a pretty useless chore. Now, however, U.S. Special Operations Command is testing a machine that can do it in 90 minutes. Get ready for advanced biometric warfare.
The basic idea is not dissimilar to the way that Osama bin Laden's body was ultimately identified. (In bin Laden's case, though, the tissue sample used to compile a DNA profile came from his dead sister's brain.) Meanwhile, the military has been using all kinds of biometric data to identify and track — everything from fingerprints to iris scans. While iris scans are better than fingerprints, nothing beats DNA in terms of accuracy. Terrorists also leave trails of it everywhere they go.
So the military is testing DNA identification in the field. This test is only a stepping stone, too. The devices in the field now are still pretty slow and hulking for what special ops soldiers could be carrying by 2020. One is called the RapidHIT™ 200 Human Identification System (pictured below), and the other is the DNAscan Rapid DNA Analysis™ System.
Both are roughly the size of a curled up tiger and weigh about 60 pounds. And at $US250,000 a pop, these machines aren't cheap. In the next five years, the military hopes to develop a battery-operated DNA analysis device that's the size of a cell phone and finds a match in seconds.
Yes, it's creepy. The future of warfare means knowing absolutely everything about the enemy, even their genes. While the process for collecting DNA samples for suspected terrorists is still in the works, you can bet the military will cast a wide net, just like they did with iris scanning a few years ago.
Not even Minority Report predicted human-tracking this invasive. But hey, if it's for the War on Terror, anything goes. Right?
Image via Getty