For years DNA tagging has been used by law enforcement on objects found at crime scenes throughout the United States and United Kingdom. However, it is now being used on actual people. In Stony Brook, New York, Applied DNA Sciences developed technology that has been called “DNA Fog.” The device fills a room with smoke in order to confuse an intruder. However, the smoke does much more than make it harder for the person to see.
The smoke contains droplets filled with DNA that is utterly invisible to the naked eye. However, under the appropriate lighting, it vibrantly glows. Consequently, if the intruder escapes, he or she will be covered with the DNA from head to toe. Remarkably, the DNA stays on a person’s skin for about two weeks and is very hard to wash out of clothing.
Most importantly, even if a burglar manages to throw out his or her clothing and to escape, it will remain on his or her face, hands, and shoes.
According to Mitchell Warren Miller, the director of digital strategy at Applied DNA, “It’s amazing how many people will dump their clothes but not their shoes.” If the suspect ends up getting arrested, police can simply swab him or her and read the sample using a chemical process called polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The DNA sequence can be altered, so any business that purchases the device can have its very own unique code. DNA Fog is an adaptation of a system Applied DNA currently uses in order to track goods. It marks the item with DNA that glows when exposed to certain kinds of light. Only now, with DNA Fog, it marks the actual person in order for them to be identified by police.
Researchers believe that this technology has a great chance of radically increasing the amount of criminals police are able to catch.