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Prototype to Encode Data as DNA Under Development

Startup Catalog Technologies is developing a prototype to store data as DNA, MIT's Technology Review reports.

Previously, researchers from Microsoft Research and the University of Washington have shown that data can be stored in DNA — they encoded a music video from the band OK Go in DNA, as well as books from Project Guttenberg and the Crop Trust's seed database. Additionally, ETH Zurich researchers also reported in 2016 that they encoded Archimedes' The Methods of Mechanical Theorems in DNA and George Church and his colleagues reported in Science in 2012 that they encoded a 50,000-word book in DNA.

The process of storing data in DNA is expense, Tech Review notes. But Catalog tells it that its approach is cheaper since it relies on combining prefab stretches of DNA rather than synthesizing custom ones. Hyunjun Park, the company's CEO and cofounder, tells Tech Review that the prototype storage machine — being built in conjunction with Cambridge Consultants — will be finished early next year and will be able to encode a terabit of data as DNA each day.

Tech Review adds that the prototype is going to be large, comparing it to the size of a school bus, and says it isn't clear whether Catalog has any partners ready to test its storage out.