October 17, 2019

Data Storage: Researchers From University of Washington and Microsoft Store Digital Images and Video in DNA — and Retrieve Them Perfectly

From the University of Washington:

…a new technique developed by University of Washington and Microsoft researchers could shrink the space needed to store digital data that today would fill a Walmart supercenter down to the size of a sugar cube.

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In a paper presented in April at the ACM International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems, the team of computer scientists and electrical engineers has detailed one of the first complete systems to encode, store and retrieve digital data using DNA molecules, which can store information millions of times more compactly than current archival technologies.
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In one experiment outlined in the paper, the team successfully encoded digital data from four image files into the nucleotide sequences of synthetic DNA snippets. More significantly, they were also able to reverse that process — retrieving the correct sequences from a larger pool of DNA and reconstructing the images without losing a single byte of information.

The team has also encoded and retrieved data that authenticates archival video files from the UW’s Voices from the Rwanda Tribunal project that contain interviews with judges, lawyers and other personnel from the Rwandan war crime tribunal.

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The digital data is chopped into pieces and stored by synthesizing a massive number of tiny DNA molecules, which can be dehydrated or otherwise preserved for long-term storage.

Learn More: Direct to Full Text U. of Washington Article (approx. 1200 words)

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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