Science journal Nature reports on the work of Japanese boffins at the University of Tokushima, who have come up with a system for burning microscopic dots into fingernails using a laser. The resulting stored data can then be read back using a microscope and a second laser to make the dots fluoresce. It seems to Sneak that the system could eventually be automated, in the manner in which CD-ROMs are burned and read. The researchers estimate that their system could store 800kB per fingernail, or about 4MB per hand, and suggest a variety of uses including authentication and transaction authorisation.
There are some obvious drawbacks, however. It’s not possible to rapidly erase the data - and it takes a couple of months to grow a new, blank nail. Which also means long-term data storage would require frequent refreshes. Plus, lady data carriers can’t wear nail polish. And finally, ending a relationship with an unsatisfactory service provider could be as painful as pulling nails - literally.
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