Advertisers in Brazil are laying claim to a bizarrely specific milestone: the first energy drink containing video game files encoded in DNA molecules.
The sci-fi feat was accomplished as part of a campaign from AKQA Sao Paulo in which the agency hired DNA data storage startup Helixworks to translate a trove of data on Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six Siege into 3D-printed genetic material.
The brand-happy mad scientists then infused this synthetic DNA into an AB InBev-owned Brazilian energy drink called Fusion.
The campaign was timed to follow the Brazilian R6 Siege competition finals at the Game XP 2019 convention in Rio de Janeiro last week. Videos of the best play from that event were included in the drinkable batch of files along with a list of characters, maps, equipment, game modes and other iconic plays. According to Ubisoft, more than 2.5 million Brazilians have now played Rainbow Six Siege, the latest entry in the Tom Clancy-based first-person shooter franchise.
While drinking one of the 1,500 limited-edition cans produced in this manner will not in fact upload first-person shooter scenarios to your cells, it probably won’t kill you either, according to regulatory approvals the campaign cited from the Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization.
Such processes exist because DNA file storage is actually a cutting-edge field with applications far afield of game-infused sodas. Scientists believe the dense, stable and easily replicable helixes of DNA molecules could make for a viable alternative to microchips as the ever-expanding amount of data that humanity produces threatens to overwhelm earthly supplies of chip-grade silicon.
It was this potential to which the brands aimed to draw attention with their stunt.
“DNA storage is considered the future of data storage as it occupies a microscopic space and has the potential to store information for thousands of years,” Fusion Energy Drink marketing manager Daniela Dib said in a statement. “With this project, Fusion seizes the opportunity to consolidate itself as an innovation-driven brand and a partner in everything that involves the gaming world.”
There is currently no way to extract the file data stored in the drink back into a form readable by computer outside of institutions with specialized equipment. But some scientists have theorized it may one day be possible to do so through a mobile device. The full package of files stored can be viewed on a website set up for the campaign.
Ireland-based Helixworks said a total of 1 trillion copies of the game files were produced in DNA form, with millions in each can.
“The first thing we do is break [the files] into small chunks and then encode it into the DNA language and we then print it with a 3D printer,” said Helixworks co-founder and CEO Nimesh Pinnamaneni in a video introducing the campaign.