Next up for the iPhone? Mobile drug testing using your fingerprint

The other night I was chilling and watching some television when a thought came to me about how much longer it would be before we could start using our smartphones for things like checking your diabetes levels. For all I know you can already, I just haven’t seen anything along those lines, unlike the heart monitor type kits you can get now.

The today I spotted this post over at the New Scientist about how a couple of researchers have come up with a way that police will be able to conduct real-time drug testing by looking at your fingerprints.

It turns out that when you are under the influence of drugs you are sweating out evidence of what drug you are taking. It’s not that you are sweating out the drug itself but rather unique byproducts of the drugs and even though the amounts are minuscule this new technology called Intelligent Fingerprinting can differentiate between drugs like nicotine, cannabis, cocaine, and methadone.

The device applies gold nanoparticles coated with antibodies to a fingerprint. The antibodies stick to antigens on specific metabolites in the fingerprint. Fluorescent dyes attached to the antibodies will highlight the presence of any metabolites. The technique was first used to detect nicotine, but now works on a range of drugs, including cocaine, methadone and cannabis.

It is hard to prove that someone is drug driving, for example, says Yates, because existing tests are invasive, can be contaminated, or aren’t sensitive enough. The new device could detect nanograms of metabolites in minutes, he says.

So while this doesn’t apply to our smartphone scenario one has to wonder how long before it will be, after all these are handheld computers and I am sure someone will figure out a way to do it.