Inside the prototype’s 3D-printed chassis is an Arduino that runs the show — it adjusts the machine’s temperature with heaters and fans, controls the excitation light, and handles the wireless connection with the iOS device. Meanwhile the iDevice’s camera is used to detect how luminescent those target DNA sequences are, and the corresponding app checks to see how closely they match the signature of whatever disease you’re looking for. The current version of the hardware isn’t quite as polished as the team would hope and it’s chock-full of open-source, hack-friendly components, but co-founder Marc DeJohn says they’d like to keep it that way if at all possible.
The team is aiming to sell its initial run of smartphone-centric PCR machines for about $1,000, but that’s just the start — should they get significant traction from the medical community at that price point, Biomeme wants to try and bring down the price to the level where you average curious consumers could pick one up without breaking the bank. That’s the overarching goal here: to democratize DNA testing.