What desktop 3-D printers and laser cutters did for amateur makers the world over, Bento Bio would like to do for anyone with a budding interest in molecular biology.
Based out of the Makerversity in London, the six-person start-up made up of scientists, engineers and designers just closed out a Kickstarter campaign, raising more than $221,000 for the Bento Lab, a portable do-it-yourself DNA analysis kit. (The start-up and what it makes share the name.)
With the Bento Lab, even someone with a rudimentary understanding of biology can conduct simple genomic experiments: checking a hamburger to see if it contains horse meat, analyzing the amount of yeast in different beers or investigating if you're a good candidate for running the next marathon by testing your variation of the "athlete gene."
"Most people use software; some people write software. We want to engage with people who want to engage with science but maybe not 'write' science," said Philipp Boeing, the 26-year-old co-founder of Bento Bio. "Bento Lab itself is just a generic lab tool, but it's a piece of hardware that you could learn how to use in an afternoon."