MicrobeMeter Offers Affordable Biological Data Collection

University of Warwick team have developed an open source data collection device for biological data.

Orkun Soyer and Kalesh Sasidharan from Humane Technologies are scientists from the University of Warwick who share a goal of democratizing life science research. Biological research, they say, is currently stuck in research institutions with full funding and established scientists.

Their vision is to “enable an open scientific community of makers, scientists, students, and citizen scientists.” They’re currently running a crowdfunding campaign for their first tool, the MicrobeMeter.

The MicrobeMeter was created with the design requirements of ease of use, open source operation, and affordability. The meter holds four samples, and once prepared the samples can be placed in the meter and then grown in a shaking incubator. The MicrobeMeter will wirelessly record the growth data and then store it for analysis. Soyer and Sasidharam are estimating that this tool can now be obtained for around £150 using the Arduino platform and 3D printed housing, down from the £1000 pricetag of current microbe cultivation and measurement equipment. Their paper A low-cost DIY device for high resolution, continuous measurement of microbial growth dynamics is available for download and explains the basic operational instructions for the meter, and the files for makers to 3D print the housing are also online.

Beyond it’s commitment to ease of use and a low cost, the MicrobeMeter surpasses many tools that can only measure aerobic organisms, with the ability to measure anaerobic cell cultures as well. The wireless data collection through Bluetooth is also a bump from many current devices. The campaign page also says that the 13 centimeter diameter and 17 centimeter height are also much smaller than most meters, but this size doesn’t take the incubator into account. I appreciate the commitment to open source operations and the group’s goal to bringing these tools to the world. The Kickstarter campaign ends on December 1, 2018.