Teaching old presumptive tests new digital tricks with computer vision for forensic applications†
Presumptive (or ‘spot’) tests have served forensic scientists, law enforcement, and legal practitioners for over a hundred years. Yet, the intended design of such tests, enabling quick identification of drugs by-eye, also hides their full potential. Here, we report the development and application of time-resolved imaging methods of reactions attending spot tests for amphetamines, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines. Analysis of the reaction videos helps distinguish drugs within the same structural class that, by-eye, are judged to give the same qualitative spot test result. It is envisaged that application of these results will bridge the existing suite of field and lab-based confirmatory forensic tests, and support a broader range of colorimetric sensing technologies.