University of Central Florida (UCF) graduate student David Nash and his team have been selected to participate in the National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps program to further advance their smartphone-based handheld drug test system for law enforcement applications. The program begins this month.
The team will receive expert guidance and a $50,000 grant to further develop and refine this technology as well as to conduct market research and customer validation. Nash also recently earned UCF’s first National Institute of Justice Graduate Research Fellowship in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics to fund continued work on a prototype.
The UCF smartphone drug test I-Corps team is developing a system that leverages spectrometry, smartphone and cloud technologies so law enforcement and forensic analysts can rapidly, accurately and safely identify substances of abuse in the field. With this spectrometer system, a law enforcement professional introduces a small sample of the substance into a handheld spectrometer, which features luminescence technology that measures its signature. The smartphone’s camera takes a photo of the signature, which is digitized then analyzed with an app that compares it with a cloud-based reference data library. The substance can be identified within seconds.
“We’re digitizing what traditionally has been an analog methodology,” Nash says.
The team is testing the system with several law enforcement agencies in the hopes that a beta version will be available early this year.