Normally, it takes more than half a day to analyze DNA in the crime lab. The device will be able to identify suspects via a DNA database.
NEC began a joint research project on a prototype with the National Research Institute of Police Science, which is affiliated with the National Police Agency, in October.
The device is about the size of a large suitcase and weighs 32 kilograms. It contains a plastic board with 5-millimeter-wide grooves arranged like a maze. Blood and bodily fluids found at crime scenes are swabbed onto the board and set within the device. The grooves serve the role of test tubes and pipettes, allowing for efficient extraction of DNA. That in turn reduces the time needed to identify the DNA.
The results of the DNA testing can not only be compared with the police DNA database, but can help police narrow the list of possible suspects based on their DNA.
Because the accuracy of the testing is slightly inferior to that found in a fully equipped crime lab, ordinary DNA testing will be necessary in order to use the findings as evidence in court.
However, an NEC official said, "It will provide huge support in the investigative process."
The current prototype takes about 60 minutes to produce a DNA test result. It can only analyze eight sections of DNA rather than the 16 sections that is done under normal DNA testing.
NEC officials hope to increase the speed and accuracy of the testing equipment through cooperation with the National Research Institute of Police Science.
Company officials said the equipment could eventually be used to help identify bodies of crime victims or of those recovered during natural disasters, as well as analyze agricultural produce. They said the device will likely sell for at least 10 million yen ($121,000).