Bento Lab: A DNA Laboratory for Everybody

Bento Lab is a portable DNA laboratory designed for anyone and everyone. It aims to bring molecular biology to the masses without the need for a full lab, or huge cash investment. Founded by Bethan Wolfenden and Philipp Boeing, Bento Lab is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter.

We all know the feeling. You're sitting down to eat a burger, but you can't quite be sure it doesn't contain horse meat. Bento Lab's got you covered. Through the combined efforts of scientists across the world, Bento Lab distils an entire laboratory down into a portable box. It contains a centrifuge for DNA extraction, a thermocycler for DNA copy and a gel unit for easy visualization.

Touted as being perfect for field researchers and students alike, Bento Lab is coming in two separate versions. A Lab Only Edition for molecular biology boffins, and a Starter Kit for students or general enthusiasts. Indeed, the team at Bento Lab are hoping to make any and every bit of DNA experimentation performable with this device.

"What could be cooler than understanding the code of life?" says Bethan Wolfenden in the Kickstarter video. "Working with DNA in a laboratory is something most of us never get to experience. This lack of access really reminds me of computers in the 1950's. But computers... have gotten smaller, and smaller, and more accessible. ... What if we can take the same step with labs?"

A novel thought; a noble thought. Molecular biology, as well as most sciences, are currently a daunting topic to most. Indeed, few of us can scratch the surface of such subjects, as much as we'd like to. Projects like Bento Lab could go a long way towards de-mystifying science by removing the prohibitive cost and culture that surrounds it. That can only be a good thing. Nowadays, it seems every kid is running around with a Raspberry Pi developing programs my ancient twenty-something brain can't even conceive of. Wouldn't it be cool to see the next generation of nippers casually unravelling the building blocks of life?

My name is Jamie O'Flinn. I am a 24-year-old writer living in the West Midlands. I received a degree in Professional Writing in 2012, and am pleased to report a total lifetime earnings of 50p so far. Earned when I was 8. Selling a story about yoghurt to my literacy teacher.

When not being NRM's star contributor, I'm either gaming, drawing, blogging or trying to shill my bad leprechaun novels to wary agents. There's also a webcomic I've been meaning to do. Maybe. One day.

I'm also delightfully autistic, which grants me special powers. Like tinnitus, and occasional sudden blindness.