TactiScan – A portable narcotics detection

TactiScan utilizes NIR (Near Infrared) spectroscopy in narcotics detection. NIR spectroscopy is a widely used technology in laboratories, and TactiScan’s developer, Spectral Engines, has been able to miniaturize this technology and make it affordable to wider audiences. A major benefit of NIR spectroscopy, is that it is non-destructive and it doesn’t need any sample preparation. NIR spectroscopy uses normal light to illuminate the sample and then measures the infrared spectrum that is reflected from the sample. The light is not harmful for the human eye and does not alter the sample in any way, as no high intensity light or electromagnetic radiation is not used.

TactiScan runs on a secure and intelligent cloud with an ever-expanding narcotics library. In the cloud, an artificially intelligent algorithm compares the narcotic to a reference library of measurements and seeks a correlation, which continuously improves the devices reliability and sensitivity. Results are shown in the mobile app in a few seconds.

Traditional chemometrics models require each narcotic cutting agent combination to be taught to the system, before it is able to make the detection. This will increase time and cost to build reliable libraries for hundreds of samples. TactiScan is trained to detect only the most commonly used narcotics substances and it will be updated based on frequent library updates. Spectral Engines uses advanced deep learning algorithms, together with commonly used chemometrics models. This ensures that narcotics will be detected reliably with all cutting agents, and new models can be easily updated in the future.

Presumptive chemical field tests have been standard practice for decades at police departments across the country. The field test kits which have been used for decades, require handling of a suspected substance, which presents an exposure hazard for the officer, as well as the risk of damaging evidence needed for prosecution. Some agencies have even changed their policies, to altogether prohibit field testing of suspected narcotics in an effort to protect officers and also due to the accuracy issues of many test kits.

The cost of the presumptive field test kits adds up over time, as various test kits are typically sold ranging 30 – 35 $ in price for a box containing of ten tests. Even though the average cost is only $3/test, often a minimum of two color tests are required for results, the overall cost would end up at $30,000 per year for a police department. Police are instead sending suspected drugs to crime laboratories, which have quickly become over-burdened, delaying many cases. Contracting a third-party lab testing, may add up significant additional costs to police departments.

In the past few years, technologies typically used in only laboratory settings have been adapted for use in the field, namely mass spectrometers and Raman spectrometers to name a few, offering a level of analysis far beyond that of traditional color-based testing. These are highly accurate devices, but they come with a price of tens of thousands of dollars. This cost may be too high for many police departments to adopt this technology to field use.

The TactiScan can offer a better option for presumptive narcotics testing on the field for police departments. It enables a safe on field testing without officer exposure with non-destructive and non-contact sampling of the suspected drug.

TactiScan is an easy-to-use handheld narcotics detector, that can rapidly identify low concentrations of cocaine, amphetamine and methamphetamine, through transparent containers or bags in less than 10 seconds.

The results are shown on mobile phone app (iOS/Android). A large benefit over the color tests is the chain of custody corroboration, in that when a sample is tested.  The results are automatically stored and time-stamped in the Cloud, which ensures traceability of the test result(s), and it enables the results to be exported and attached to the case report, or traced backwards and reviewed later when needed.

TactiScan offer unlimited testing per device on monthly fee. The acquisition does not require capital investment as a low monthly fee is usually covered in operational budget. The ease of use and portability makes it possible to be deployed to wider use, even as a personal device, and compared to other high-tech devices it can assist officers in doing a better and safer job in taking drugs off the street and reducing drug related crimes.

TactiScan videos:

How it works

Cocaine detection video

Methamphetamine detection video

 

References:

Dory Lieblei, Meghann E. McMahon, Pauline E. Leary, Peter Massey, Brooke W. Kammrath (2018)

Spectroscopy Volume 33, Issue 12.

Flynn, M., Harris County DA Stops Prosecuting Drug Cases Involving Minuscule Amounts. Houston Press. September 2017.

Forensic Technology Center of Excellence. Landscape Study of Field Portable Devices for Chemical and Presumptive Drug Testing. U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, Office of Investigative and Forensic Sciences (2018).

Lane Harper, Jeff Powell & Em M. Pijl (2017) An overview of forensic drug testing methods and their suitability for harm reduction point-of-care services. Harm Reduction Journal Volume 14, Article number: 52.

Pohl, J. Fentanyl fears force policy change, testing backlog within Arizona DPS. AZCentral, September 2017.

Use of Field Tests Comes into Question. NES, Inc. March 22, 2017; Available from: https://www.nesglobal.net/use-of-field-tests-comes-into-question/.