It's normally used in hazmat responses or counter-terrorism, but on Sunday a machine specially flown in from the United States will be part of a world first at Canberra's Groovin the Moo music festival.
This time, it will be used to identify materials present in pills brought in for testing at Australia's second ever pill testing trial.
The gas chromatograph mass spectrometer was brought in by Pill Testing Australia to beef up its capabilities for its second year testing at the Canberra festival.
Emergency doctor and pill testing advocate David Caldicott said the machine answered a lot of the questions and criticisms levelled at pill testing in Australia.
He said any substances unable to be properly identified by other technology at the site or anything that caused concern for the on-hand chemists would be tested in the new kit.
It could detect Fentanyl, for instance, something previous machines couldn't.
He said there were only about four of the machines in Australia. One was used by Victorian firefighters in hazmat situations and in detecting PFAS pollution.
But Dr Caldicott said it was the first time such a machine had been used in a festival environment to test drugs.
On Saturday, media were given a tour of the facility set up at Exhibition Park for this year's festival.
It is essentially a large shed with blacked out fencing inside. Patrons first come to an induction area where they must surrender their mobile phones and all other technology into a safe and sign a liability waiver form.
From there they move into the testing area, where they are surrounded posters filled with medical and educational advice. The testing can take as little as five minutes and patrons are encouraged to provide as much of the drug as possible for testing, Dr Caldicott says.
Anyone using the service will leave with an identification card, although they remain anonymous, in case they run into medical trouble so what they took can quickly be determined. Dr Caldicott said the new technology and testing service was all set up to get people considering using drugs into contact with staff at the testing area.
There will be medical staff and peer support workers, all volunteers, who will educate patrons about how these drugs are made and their possible effects. Dr Caldicott said the new technology also improved the messages they could give patrons and eliminate ambiguity. "If we say you could die, most people listen to us," he said. "Do you really want to eat something that the most sophisticated piece of tech can't identify?"
Volunteers said they believed they could really open people's eyes on drug use.
There were also brochures, ear plugs, condoms and lollipops on hand to take away.
Australian National University researchers will conduct an independent review.