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Secure Data Storage... On Your Fingernails

CmdrTaco posted more than 9 years ago | from the information-at-the-tips-of-your-fingers dept.

Data Storage 331

opticsorg writes "Secure optical data storage could soon literally be at your fingertips thanks to work being carried out in Japan. Yoshio Hayasaki and his colleagues have discovered that data can be written into a human fingernail by irradiating it with femtosecond laser pulses. Capacities are said to be up to 5 mega bits and the stored data lasts for 6 months - the length of time it takes a fingernail to be completely replaced."

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Fingernails (4, Funny)

ozbon (99708) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994131)

Ironic that this comes up at the same time as a poll about "least favourite finger" - now they can all be useful again.

Re:Fingernails (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12994332)

Boss: "Johnson, do you have that report yet?"
Johnson: "Sure do boss, it's right here!" *waves middle finger*

Re:Fingernails (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12994343)

pull my finger!

But what if (5, Insightful)

LrdZombie (70317) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994132)

You bite your fingernails?

Re:But what if (2, Funny)

insertwackynamehere (891357) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994253)

rofl I do :P "Aghh! what happened to my report!? It was right here on my thumb?!"

Re:But what if (2, Funny)

lordsilence (682367) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994331)

Future homework excuses...
The dog ate my finger!

article text, you know it might go down! (4, Informative)

0110011001110101 (881374) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994133)

Japanese researchers are using femtosecond laser pulses to write data into human fingernails.

Secure optical data storage could soon literally be at your fingertips thanks to work being carried out in Japan. Yoshio Hayasaki and his colleagues have discovered that data can be written into a human fingernail by irradiating it with femtosecond laser pulses. Capacities are said to be up to 5 mega bits and the stored data lasts for 6 months - the length of time it takes a fingernail to be completely replaced. (Optics Express 13 4560)

Fingernail storage

"I don't like carrying around a large number of cards, money and papers," Hayasaki from Tokushima University told Optics.org. "I think that a key application will be personal authentication. Data stored in a fingernail can be used with biometrics, such as fingerprint authentication and intravenous authentication of the finger."

The team's approach is simple: use a femtosecond laser system to write the data into the nail and a fluorescence microscope to read it out. The key to reading the data out is that the nail's fluorescence increases at the point irradiated by the femtosecond pulses.

Initial experiments were carried out on a small piece of human fingernail measuring 2 x 2 x 0.4 mm3. The writing system comprises a Ti:Sapphire oscillator and Ti: Sapphire amplifier. Pulses of less than 100 fs at 800 nm are then passed through a microscope and focused to three set depths (40, 60 and 80 microns) using an objective lens.

Each "bit" of information has a diameter of 3.1 microns and is written by a single femtosecond pulse. A motorised stage moves the nail to create a bit spacing of 5 microns across the nail and a depth of 20 microns between recording layers.

An optical microscope containing a filtered xenon arc lamp excites the fluorescence and reads out the data stored at the various depths. "We regulate the focus with the movement of the microscope objective," explained Hayasaki. "The distance between the planes is set to prevent cross-talk between data stored at different depths."

Hayasaki adds that the same fluorescence signal is seen 172 days after recording.

Although the initial experiments have concentrated on small pieces of nail, the team is now developing a system that can write data to a fingernail which is still attached to a finger. "We will develop a femtosecond laser processing system that can record the data at the desired points with compensation for the movement of a finger," said Hayasaki.

Author Jacqueline Hewett is technology editor on Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

Re:article text, you know it might go down! (1)

SimianOverlord (727643) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994334)

"I don't like carrying around a large number of cards, money and papers," Hayasaki from Tokushima University told Optics.org. "I think that a key application will be personal authentication. Data stored in a fingernail can be used with biometrics, such as fingerprint authentication and intravenous authentication of the finger."

I'd rather a determined thief just took my wallet off of me to get my cards, money and papers.

Re:article text, you know it might go down! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12994382)

I tend to agree. This technology is just asking for the reintroduction of fingernail-pulling torturers!

Re:article text, you know it might go down! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12994370)

Karma whore.

Re:article text, you know it might go down! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12994374)

"Karma whore, you know my karma will go up!"

nail biter (1)

senocular (519317) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994136)

but I bite my nails...

Already got lah (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12994138)

I've already got optical data storage on my fingernails.

It generally tells me I've been rolling around in the dirt, scratching myself, and have had an inability to touch anyone of the opposite sex.

would be a good idea except (5, Funny)

kalpol (714519) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994139)

Talk about thumb drives.

Imagine losing your data when you hit your thumb with a hammer.

One way to be sure it's secure (2, Interesting)

haaz (3346) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994140)

...don't chew your fingernails.

Re:One way to be sure it's secure (4, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994398)

That's not all. Now, in addition to having to worry about computer viruses, you're going to have to worry about nail fungus eating your data.

"completely replaced" (3, Interesting)

tyler083 (775626) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994141)

Capacities are said to be up to 5 mega bits and the stored data lasts for 6 months - the length of time it takes a fingernail to be completely replaced.

i admit i didn't read the article, but what about when the nail is partially being replaced?

6 months? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12994142)

and the stored data lasts for 6 months - the length of time it takes a fingernail to be completely replaced."

So wouldn't half the data be lost in 3 months?

Re:6 months? (5, Interesting)

wcb4 (75520) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994229)

There should be continuous data loss as the nail grows. I would assume that the 5mb that they mention would be the entire nail, but part of that data would be lost as soon as you cut or bit your nails, or if they broke off.... Not really sure what you would use this for other than biometric identification, but you would have to be sure that the person did not allow the nail to grow out completely and then cut it off and use the nail as an overlay later.

Re:6 months? (2, Interesting)

AllahsAvatar (887555) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994306)

How much do you think this guy [guinnessworldrecords.com] could hold?

Re:6 months? (1)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994356)

Fuck, that's gross :O

Read between the lines... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12994144)

And on which finger would you store all your porn?

Chinese torture anyone? (1)

Ray Alloc (835739) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994146)

Bamboo stick under fingernails not needed anymore to make you tell the truth, just ripping said nails and decoding the bits written there will be enough.

Yummy.

Maybe toenails ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12994150)

since I don't chew through those.

Duration (1)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994151)

Err.. the nail fully replaced... I mean, when the nail is half replaced, half of the data is lost. Does it implie that you should not cut your nails ?

Where's Keanu Reeves? (1)

Wiseazz (267052) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994156)

I see another spy/action movie with bad dialog in the making...

Re:Where's Keanu Reeves? (1)

Laxitive (10360) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994401)


A modal dialog?

-Laxitive

Identity Theft (2, Funny)

airship (242862) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994157)

The article goes on: "Criminals are said to be stocking up on pliers and practicing their nail-pulling skills."

Lost Data (1)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994159)

Sorry boss, but I lost the Johnson file when I trimmed my nails last night.

Pretty nifty idea though.

Toes (1)

kevin_conaway (585204) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994164)

I'd rather keep it on my toenails, they (seem to) grow slower and thus, I don't clip them as often.

Uh oh... (1)

Evro (18923) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994165)

After weeks of stealth and subterfuge, the double agent finally arrives in Moscow. As he's anxiously waiting in the lab for the equipment to decipher the data on his left index finger, he absent-mindedly bites off the data on his right finger.

D'oh!

Breaking a nail (2, Insightful)

Cyphertube (62291) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994166)

Damn it! I broke a nail. There went my passwords!

I love how they reported the results in megabits. So is that 5000000 bits? Whee! I usually do my data in bytes.... Divide by 8, no?

Re:Breaking a nail (1)

GrenDel Fuego (2558) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994309)

I love how they reported the results in megabits. So is that 5000000 bits? Whee! I usually do my data in bytes.... Divide by 8, no?

If you divide by 8 you get a smaller number, which sounds less impressive ;)

Re:Breaking a nail (4, Funny)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994354)

Whee! I usually do my data in bytes....

I'm going to do mine in nibbles [wikipedia.org] if it's stored on my fingernails.

Hmmm (1)

Tx (96709) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994167)

Shit, I just bit off the end of my thesis!

Maybe it's just me, but seems like a bit of a sketchy idea.

femtosecond (2, Informative)

Vamphyri (26309) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994171)

I wasn't sure what the measure femtosecond equated to so I Googled it.

femtosecond - one quadrillionth of a second; one thousandth of a nanosecond.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/femtosecond [thefreedictionary.com]

Re:femtosecond (1)

Lewie (3743) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994274)

Err... One thousandth of a nanosecond would surely be a picosecond. A femtosecond should be a thousandth of that. Or so I've been told.

Re:femtosecond (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12994311)

An anology that might help convey the scale of a femtosecond:

(1 fs) / (1 s) (1 s) / (age of universe)

Re:femtosecond (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12994317)

It's ten to the negative 15th of a second.

Re:femtosecond (1)

Mahou (873114) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994400)

that doesn't sound very powerful. are they at all worried about sunlight corrupting the data?

So I can transfer 5Mb with each person I flip off? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12994174)

That's so AWESOME!!! Now if we could finish those mini projectors. I'd be able to send a complex message with each person I flip off.

So instead of stealing your wallet..... (1)

cheezemonkhai (638797) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994177)

They will steal your fingers instead.

Good move guys!

attached to the finger? (1)

Se7enLC (714730) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994181)

the team is now developing a system that can write data to a fingernail which is still attached to a finger.

Yeah, I wasn't really looking forward to having my fingernails peeled off...

Ouch! (1)

mattr (78516) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994183)

A new sense of the term "data retrieval". 2005: Computing can now be equated with torture

Re:Ouch! (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994316)

Of course its not torture. Torture must result in death or organ failure. Just ask the most likely nominee to the US Supreme Court* - he's reviewd and greead with that fact.

Pulling off nails is just data retreival. Nothing to get all concerned about, especially if its done in the name of national security.

*Alberto Gonzales:
According to Newsweek, the memo "was drafted after White House meetings convened by George W. Bush's chief counsel, Alberto Gonzales, along with Defense Department general counsel William Haynes and [Cheney counsel] David Addington." The memo included the opinion that laws prohibiting torture do "not apply to the President's detention and interrogation of enemy combatants." Further, the memo puts forth the opinion that the pain caused by an interrogation must include "injury such as death, organ failure, or serious impairment of body functions--in order to constitute torture."

I bet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12994184)

That they've only scratched the surface with this technology!

Hey, I've already done that for a while! (2, Funny)

hoborocks (775911) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994189)

I've been doing this for a long time! I have part of a speech I made on my fingernails...lemme see if I can find it...

Ah

Good morning. I'm

here today to tell

you about the new

\--_______________--/

Well crud, it looks like I DID clip my nails last week.

Question is: (3, Funny)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994190)

Will it support raid-5-fingers ?

Will lead to an massive increase in rampant... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12994191)

...War Shaking. Everyone will have to encrypt their hands or wear gloves.

Bill Gates (4, Funny)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994193)

Now we finally understand the full meaning of Bill Gates' quote "640K ought to be enough for everyone".

and finally (1)

sathia (797192) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994196)

after 3.5 inchs floppy, we have 1 inch floppy.

nice

Technically, (1)

KevlarTheSleepinator (827583) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994290)

5 Mbits is about 625 MBytes (5e6/8) so its more like a 0.5 inch CD-RW :)

Re:Technically, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12994364)

Better get back to sleep there, Sparky...

Re:Technically, (1)

ahrenritter (187622) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994383)

Your parent was correct.
5 Mb = 640 KB
5Mb = .625 MB

625 MB = 5000 Mb

Ow! (-1 troll) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12994198)

Just fucking great! Another excuse for the Mafia/Yakuza/Triads/CIA/whatever to rip out your fingernails!

Long Nails (4, Funny)

Nytewynd (829901) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994199)

I'll bet we start seeing guys with all of their nails at 7 inches long. How else are you going to fit all of your porn onto them?

Re:Long Nails (4, Funny)

el_womble (779715) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994286)

Wouldn't that kinda defeat the whole point of owning porn?

Re:Long Nails (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12994348)

I'm going to have to get me a rhino horn

Re:Long Nails (0, Troll)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994394)

I'll bet we start seeing guys with all of their nails at 7 inches long. How else are you going to fit all of your porn onto them?

On something else that's 7 inches when floppy?

Image storage? (1)

syntaxglitch (889367) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994200)

Gives a new meaning to "thumbnail"...

Interesting Consequences (2, Insightful)

DanielMarkham (765899) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994204)

Things to think about:
Girls break a nail, loose last month's vacation pictures!
Would you back up some of your nails on others? Perhaps you could use your toenails as "offline storage"
Sounds like fingernail polish would "erase" the storage. So then could you write to them again? Are nails only WORMs?
What would the readers look like? Would you stick your hand inside your computer? Gee. Hope there isn't any moisture in there.

Long Distance Tax Overturned. You May Be Due a Refund. But Good Luck Getting It. [whattofix.com]

Storing large amounts of data in a small place (1)

ReformedExCon (897248) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994208)

There is a theory that says that it is possible to store any amount of data on a finely-machined metal rod.

First, take any data (for example the text to Moby Dick) and turn each character into a digit. A=01, B=02, etc. Then string them all together into one long stream of digits. Once the text is translated into this long number, add a decimal to the front of the string.

Now you have a fractional number. 0.0301...

Measure out *exactly* that length in relation to the length of the metal rod and machine a line at that offset. Voila, you've stored the entire text on a metal rod.

Re:Storing large amounts of data in a small place (0, Troll)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994243)

Thank you, Captain Obvious :)

Re:Storing large amounts of data in a small place (1)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994260)

Quantum mechanics states that this is not possible with finite energy.

Re:Storing large amounts of data in a small place (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12994293)

Except when you have a hard time measuring between atoms...

Re:Storing large amounts of data in a small place (1)

Nytewynd (829901) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994381)

That makes sense in theory, but the decimal would border on being infinitely small and probably too small to measure with any technology we'll have for a very long time, if ever. The end of the book would be so precise that if you are off by the tiniest amount you wouldn't know whether Captain Ahab was eaten or went out for fish 'n chips.

Hooker fingernails (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12994216)

Chicks with those long, hooker fingernails might have up to a gig of memory.

mp3 player (2, Funny)

0110011001110101 (881374) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994217)

but where will I embed the fm transmitter and bluetooth??

And with no display, could Apple sue for prior art with the Shuffle?

Re:mp3 player (1)

BewireNomali (618969) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994276)

funny, but with the oh so salient kernel of truth.

this is interesting proof of concept, but with so many variables in writing to a biological substrate, this is where implants come in. I'm so surprised that no one has started doing ports yet - meaning body modifications for things like data storage, etc.

Someone will put a 12 gauge ring through his face but not augment with an upgradeable bluetooth flash drive? Interesting times we live in.

Well, I'll google body mods to see if someone's doing it. somebody's gotta be doing it.

Re:mp3 player (1)

0110011001110101 (881374) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994386)

I agree, next time I'm in my local tatoo-parlor getting my arm covered in "I love Mom" (okay lets be real, "I love Will Wheaton") I would love to see the sign that says "Supersize your tatto with 1 gig of skin storage for only $99!".

Even then you know the guy with the 12 gauge ring connecting his penis to his lip would look over and say "man I'm never lettin em put that sh*t in my body mein!".

Cloning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12994222)

Great... Now cloning will be done as a backup measure.

suddenly that "total recall" scene makes sense (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994230)

remember the receptionist in that movie?

what she was doing to her fingernails?

broke a nail? (3, Funny)

Se7enLC (714730) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994232)

Now we'll see men crying when they break a nail

corporate spying (1)

pin_gween (870994) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994236)

So what happens when this technology is more commonplace? Will you have to place your hands under a filtered xenon arc lamp when you leave work to make sure you didn't steal any sensitive info?

Tin Foil Gloves (2, Funny)

danl125 (650073) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994239)

Everyone! Quick! Put on your tin foil gloves so they can't read your fingernails!

Pull my finger? (1)

Chunt620 (897724) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994244)

"Hey Jim can i get that TPS report from you....." "Yeah sure thing Doug, ill come over to your office and you can pull my finger" "er..."

Secure? (1)

nebulus4 (799015) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994247)

Secure optical data storage could soon literally be at your fingertips thanks to work being carried out in Japan.

And why would it be secure?

Re:Secure? (1)

danl125 (650073) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994284)

And why would it be secure?

Because they'd have to take your fingers to get it.

Re:Secure? (1)

nebulus4 (799015) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994357)

Because they'd have to take your fingers to get it.

This is exactly my point! And that's why you can't really call it secure.

Re:Secure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12994323)

"And why would it be secure?"

well, this is technology for the geeky, obviously, as no normal human is gonna do this, not in my lifetime anyways.

now, look at your average geek. would you want to touch his fingers?

security through grossocity.

oh i want this so bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12994251)

im going to get "F@CK YOU" lazer etched onto my middle finger, that way when someone pisses me off i can just rai.. oh

Now nerds will be less embarrassed... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12994256)

...to visit the nail salon!

Oh, I'm just backing up some data...

Omg... (1)

N1ghtFalcon (884555) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994265)

Can you imagine how many terabytes of data this guy could store: http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/content_pages/ record.asp?recordid=48558 [guinnessworldrecords.com] Now who's laughing! Pretty soon instead of raid arrays in the datacenters you'll see a bunch of freaks with very long finger nails. Sweet...

Did you clip your nails? (1)

msoori (614781) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994267)

Is clipping your finger nails going to be the new way to loose your data?

lusers (1)

no_pets (881013) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994272)

Great. Now some luser will break a nail and it will be our fault.

At least she might be hot.

"Why are you biting your nails?" (2, Funny)

FunWithHeadlines (644929) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994277)

"Just defragmenting my disk"

bad news for manicurists (1)

Avohir (889832) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994287)

can they read the data through a nice set of nail polish?

Great, my data lasts until I work on my car (2, Insightful)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994289)

Great, so my data lasts until I work on something that chews up my hands.

Will this survive being GoJo'ed after I change my oil? Or being scraped up working in the yard?

What will the bit error rate be after I've painted the fence and scrubbed the paint off my hands?

So now I'll have to wear gloves anytime I do anything remotely physical? Better hope I don't break down and don't have my gloves with me.

Deficiencies (1)

wulfwulf (262315) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994330)

That fingernails develop ridges based on malnourishment and vitamin deficiencies, does that take an entire growth cycle to change?

This is clearly just novelty, I see far too many problems with this for it to ever be used.

winzip (1)

stontu (886760) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994345)

i got 10 nails, so 50 mb in my hands...yuuuuhoooo Imagine using winzip with it: please insert package # 4....

In Other News... (1)

Zemplar (764598) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994347)

...Industrial Espionage See Rise in Rates of Hangings by Fingernails

News at Eleven.

Coming soon: $20 for a manicure and a HD backup (1)

jason718 (634659) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994352)

Coming to a nail salon near you soon... :)

Hey, waiter! (1)

Speare (84249) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994371)

Now that's what I call "digital" storage! The article says that they're currently only working with fingernail trimmings. They have yet to work on fingernails which are "attached to a finger," raising issues due to natural movements. Go to the local Wendy's of Tokyo ("Wenudisu"?) to find an extra couple megabits in your ramen. No, it's not an official promotion, either.

Identity Thieves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12994373)

This isn't secure at all... now we're gonna have people looking for our nail clipping in the garbage and stealing pin numbers right off of them.

Honestly though, the only thing I can picture this being good for is for stealing data without being noticed.

Ouch! (1)

thisissilly (676875) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994375)

I have visions of data thieves, coming after me with pliers!

Resistence? (1)

Spez (566714) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994388)

What I think is the most important question that we must ask is : Is this technology "hit resistent"? I mean, is it like a CD/DVD (a scratch, data is lost)? If they could write the data deeper into the nail, maybe it could withstand a couple of stratch and hits, wich is daily life. If it can't I cannot see the utility of this.

SD cards (1)

The Original Yama (454111) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994389)

What does this give me that an SD card and some superglue does not?

Up Next... (1)

CatsupBoy (825578) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994392)

46 Nerds across the world set a new world record for longest individual combined finger nails at 1200 centimeters (or 32G).

Huh. (1)

mcc (14761) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994397)

It's like Johnny Mnenmonic, but with more polish

longer nails = memory upgrade (1)

jasonhamilton (673330) | more than 9 years ago | (#12994404)

Why stop at 5 megs? Just grow your nails longer and quit cutting them.

Anyone know how much ram the woman in the guinness book of world records can store in her nails?
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