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Smartphone app gives New York paternity results in under a second

The lightning-fast advancement of technology could change the way family law courts handle certain cases. The impact an accurate test with almost instantaneous results could have on New York paternity cases might reduce or eliminate lengthy disputes over fatherhood.

The technology to establish paternity within moments has already been developed. University computer researchers have created a secure smartphone application that can detect or dismiss a paternal biological connection within one second.

The Android GenoDroid software can store a fragment of hereditary information. The data would be just enough to make a paternity test possible without tapping into a complete genetic history.

A Pater Noster paternity test, named for the Latin words for "our father," would stack DNA strands from two individuals against one another to compare lengths. Results would confirm or deny a match - nothing else. Sophisticated encryption and decryption methods would safeguard the DNA data while the paternity test is conducted.

The reason scientists have adapted the DNA technology for smartphones is privacy. DNA houses an individual's most personal information. Genomic sequencing - translating the full genetic story of a living organism - can reveal a person's tendency to inherit characteristics like eye color, behaviors or medical conditions.

The wide use of DNA information could affect a person's employment or decisions about insurance coverage. The GenoDroid's inventors want to make sure DNA data remains in the owner's possession.

Paternity testing isn't the only function the application is designed to perform. Scientists hope to take the technology to higher levels that could eventually help customize medicine or treatments for individual patients.

The GenoDroid and Pater Noster app may replace the standard genetic tests currently used to determine paternity. Sooner than later, the day may come when mothers or babies and potential biological fathers briefly share smartphone data to clear a paternity conflict. Court and parental time, effort and expenses may be cut significantly.

Source: eweek.com, "Android Paternity Test App Developed by UC Irvine Computer Scientists," Brian T. Horowitz, Feb. 8, 2013

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