Unlike MPS, the commercial Rapid DNA technology does not allow the analysis of novel genetic markers; instead, it automates an existing system, the characterization of STRs by electrophoresis.
Furthermore, rapid DNA instruments can get a CODIS core STR profile from a cheek swab within two hours. Automation and speed are very significant for law enforcement practices. This is the main reason that these compact instruments can be installed in police stations and border patrol stations.
For many years, the forensic community wanted to fully automate and speed up the standard STR genotyping method. Now, because of the rapid DNA technology, all commercial compact instruments are capable of providing an STR profile in less than 90 minutes. This short turnaround time is achieved with the help of rapid PCR thermal cycling. A PCR of thirty 1.5-minute cycles will take 45 minutes. By reducing each cycle to 20 seconds, this PCR will take only 10 minutes.
The speed of these instruments means that they can be used in police stations so that STR profiles can be screened against criminal and evidence databases while the suspect was still at the booking station. Also, rapidly generated profiles help in preventing the detention of the wrongfully accused. The main thing is that these instruments can be used at the border to investigate claimed familial relationships in immigration cases. Though, it raises the issues of both consent and privacy.
The Rapid DNA analysis at the booking station has been made possible by the development of these commercial instruments and the passage of the Rapid DNA Act of 2017 which provides guidelines for the implementation of this innovative technology.