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Philips Develops Roadside Drug-Testing Device 647

Al writes "A handheld developed by Philips for law enforcement detects traces of cocaine, heroin, cannabis, and methamphetamine in 90 seconds. The system uses magnetic nanoparticles attached to ligands that bind to traces of these drugs. Once saliva has been placed inside the device, an electromagnet mixes the sample and the nanoparticles. Frustrated total internal reflection (FTIR) — the same phenomenon that underlies fingerprint scanners and multitouch screens — is then used to measure a change to the refractive index. By immobilizing different drug molecules on different parts of a sensor surface, the analyzer is able to identify traces of each different drug. An electronic screen displays instructions and a simple color-coded readout of the results."
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Philips Develops Roadside Drug-Testing Device

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  • Re:Legalization (Score:5, Informative)

    by valkoinen ( 81260 ) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @01:22PM (#28943933)

    The question is does it detect active ingredients instead of metabolites? For example cannabis can test positive even several days (or weeks) after consumption.

  • by Proto23 ( 931154 ) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @01:23PM (#28943953)
    There has been some news here in the Netherlands about it and no it can't see whether you are under the influence or have used it in the last 24 hours or even days before depending on the drug. Most drug effect wear off after sleep and this machine won't know the difference. In the Netherlands this is such a big problem that drug prevention units like Trimbos are advising against its use as it will create more problems than solve. But maybe it works better in countries that prosecute users anyway.
  • by spun ( 1352 ) <> on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @01:30PM (#28944083) Journal

    Police could test actual impairment. Some years back I read about an impairment testing device for use in factories and heavy machinery. It's a simple LCD screen with a left-right joystick. A dot moves randomly to the left or the right on the screen, the user tries to keep it in the center using the joystick. If their reaction times are not impaired, the device unlocks the machinery. If they are, for whatever reason, like sleep deprivation, prescription medications, illegal drugs, or whatever, then the machinery remains locked. The police could test actual impairment rather than the presence of things that might or might not impair reactions. This would catch any sort of impairment which might endanger drivers and others on the road. For instance, studies have found that people with severe sleep apnea are about as likely to get in an accident as someone with a .1 BAC. If we are trying to protect people on the roads, rather than simply punish users of certain substances, this would be a fairer option.

  • by canajin56 ( 660655 ) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @01:46PM (#28944311)
    They make a little thing that you hold up to your eye. It has a blinking LED. You press a button on the side when the light stops blinking. This tests your reaction time, and in some of the instances, instead of actually going solid, it is just flashing faster, so it also tests your perception. (If you are sleep deprived, drunk, etc, your perceptions slow down, and a blinking light will appear solid). It's smaller than a brethalizer.
  • Re:Legalization (Score:5, Informative)

    by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @03:07PM (#28945737) Journal

    So... you would rather they wait until the drivers are on the street

    Yes, I would. A family member of mine was run over and murdered by a drunk driver who hadn't even gone to a bar that night. He was on his way to the gas station for a beer run with a BAC that exceeded 0.20, swerving all over the place according to witnesses. He ran her over on the fucking sidewalk and kept going on his beer run. The police tracked him down later by following the trail of broken road signs and fences. That's how badly he was driving.

    On that particular night nearly three quarters of the local on duty police force was stationed at a nearby bar, manning a roadblock. Perhaps if they had been out patrolling instead of harassing people (the vast majority of which weren't intoxicated or even going to said bar) they would have caught this asshole before someone died? It's not like he was being particularly subtle. It was obvious that he had no business on the roadway. Too bad there wasn't any law enforcement around to catch him.

    Go do some research on your own. The facts are all there for anybody with an open mind. Most accidents involving alcohol that result in injury or death were caused by drivers with a BAC of 0.15 or higher. The vast majority of the statistics that come from the Government are lies and distortions. My favorite one is the one that says half of all automobile accidents involve alcohol. Guess how they arrive at that number? They include passengers who had alcohol in their systems even if the drivers involved were completely sober.

    Also, fuck you.

  • Re:Legalization (Score:4, Informative)

    by Inda ( 580031 ) <> on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @04:30PM (#28947007) Journal
    You say that but I know plenty of people who'll sink four pints of Stella a night. That's 12 units. That's about 13 hours to clear the alcohol out. Finish drinking at 11pm and you won't be sober until lunchtime the next day. Forget that your body slows down during sleep too.

    Eight pints on a Friday night, drive in the morning... Don't get me started. Irresponsible is a tame word to use.
  • Re:Legalization (Score:3, Informative)

    by Psyborgue ( 699890 ) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @05:32PM (#28947915) Homepage Journal

    I don't smoke weed, never lost a job over weed, barely drink, and never drive under the influence. What would make you conclude such a thing? Is that prejudice I hear... because I couldn't possibly be criticizing the holy church of "sobriety" (different definition in AA) with honorable intentions. I must be in denial!

    Your higher power can not be anything. That's bait and switch []. AA is a religious organization [] (court decisions which the supreme court has refused to challenge making it the law of the land) that somehow manages to, despite those decisions, weasel converts from the state (60% of AA members were first coerced into it. Source grapevine magazine Novermber 2001). My Problem with AA stems from the above, the fact that it's no more effective than no treatment at all, the fact that peopel are coerced into it, and the fact that it statistically causes an increase in binge behavior [] (Brandsma, et al).. What else do you expect when you tell people they are powerless to control themselves and should "let go and let god".

  • by MRe_nl ( 306212 ) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @05:46PM (#28948057)


    For another laugh, look at the corporate logo of the company developing this gadget with Philips []

    Handcuffs anyone?

  • Re:Legalization (Score:3, Informative)

    by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @05:50PM (#28948095) Homepage

    Dreaming is, by definition, not hallucinating. Hallucinating requires a conscious state. They do not, however, need to be visual. Seriously, "Did you just say something?" has got to be the real stoner catch phrase, to which a response in the negative will be followed by either "I could've sworn.." or else "Stop fucking with me!", depending on how much of a self-assured asshole he is. Of course, the latter response calls for intentionally fucking with them for the rest of the night.

  • Re:Legalization (Score:2, Informative)

    by Ocker3 ( 1232550 ) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @06:54PM (#28948975)
    It's a reference to a recurring Daily Show joke, where any organisation they think is stupid/silly when they talk about them, they say the long name, and then say NAMBLA (or something similiar) as the acronym. They once ran a retrospective showing how many times they'd used it.
  • Re:Legalization (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @04:42AM (#28953477)
    You are jumping through hoops to define addiction broadly... a sign of weak foundation for your arguments.

    "the ... focus of a person's life to the exclusion of other activities, or that has begun to harm the individual or others physically, mentally, or socially."

    This could be used to describe a fondness for reading books, or playing baseball, or arguing with family about theology. It is so broad as to be meaningless. Although I will give you that you did state that it was "the major focus". That alone is better than most definitions I have encountered. But even so it could be used to describe anyone who has a special interest (like baseball, for example) in which they intend to excel or that they want to make a career... or even a hobby that interests them a lot. If the subject is a male adolescent, you could use exactly this same wording to describe females.

    Until society can come up with a much better definition for addiction, a lot of this will continue to mean little or nothing.

    "THC binds to specific receptors in the brain -- a biochemical process"

    You can say exactly the same thing about caffiene, or alcohol, or chocolate, or phenylalinine (Equal sweetener), or the effects of the ingestion of meat, or pasta, or sugar, or Benadryl, or aspirin, or even (in some circumstances) water, or a thousand other substances that enter the body by various means. Again, a meaningless "definition". I'm sorry, but that "definition" is so broad that the best word I can think of at the moment to describe it is "bullshit".

    "When people seek out this biochemical process in the manner described above, then they ARE addicted."

    Except that, as already mentioned, the same can be said of necessary nutrients. You are saying that if someone is protein-starved that they are "addicted"? Or of they are dehydrated to the point of desperation? In fact, a shortage of nutrients, and a great many other situations, can lead to exactly the behavior described. Again... your definition is so broad that it contains far too many "unanticipated" situations.

    "The real disservice is taking it to either extreme: pretending these facts do not exist..."

    No, the real disservice is treating so many people with simple behavior problems as though "addicted", when in fact there may be any number of reasons for their behavior. And what I really think is funny, was your dismissal of chemical dependency (real addiction, without much doubt) as a "separate phenomenon". When in fact those are people who need intervention and treatment, and there really isn't much controversy about that.

    Let me guess: you are employed professionally in counseling for "addicted" people, or have been exposed to many other people who are.

    Uh-huh. Thought so.

Love may laugh at locksmiths, but he has a profound respect for money bags. -- Sidney Paternoster, "The Folly of the Wise"