Tag Archives: Amino

Amino lets you grow living cells to create interesting things

Biology class is about to get a lot more fun! Amino reduces the size and complex nature of large lab equipment into a countertop-sized system.

When it comes to the Maker Movement, things like 3D printers, milling machines, laser engravers and soldering stations are pretty common on workbenches and countertops. A desktop biolab? Not so much. However, this is something a group that began in MIT’s Media Lab is hoping to change.


The brainchild of Julie Legault, Amino is an Atmel powered bioengineering system that enables anyone to grow and take care of living cells — whether at home, at school or in a Makerspace. Inspired by Tamagotchis, the all-in-one mini-lab allows you to perform the genetic transformation of an organism’s DNA through guided interactions, resulting in a synthetic organism that can be cared for like a pet.

The ultimate goal is to bring the necessary tools for bioengineering to the masses, ones in which have been traditionally quite expensive and only available in research labs. Now, Amino is bundling those instruments into a small, desktop-friendly package that makes it accessible to transform living cells into things like fragrances, flavors, materials and medicine. Plus, it will automatically capture multiple sources of data in real-time, letting you learn more about how your cells are developing and what needs to be done to ensure proper growth.


Amino itself is a sophisticated piece of Arduino-driven hardware with circulation and temperature controls for its user, as well as sensors that can keep tabs on how fast your microbes are growing and how much food they’re eating. Housed in a square wooden box with a hinged plastic lid, Amino contains everything required for users to undertake their own synthetic biology experiments. It includes modular chambers, which can be swapped out for a new microbe food and nutrients, pH balancing solutions and even other chemicals that help control your DNA program. What’s more, the system boasts a touchscreen that displays the real-time instructions along with indicator lights that walk you through the creation process.

“Synthetic biology and wetware is poised to be the dominant technology of this century, the way electrical engineering was for this last century. It allows scientist to problem-solve food, energy, health and materials in sustainable new ways. By bringing the science out of the labs with the Amino, we are enabling everyone to take part in their own future by creating and problem-solving at home and in the DIY labs. Amino gives you a chance to experience this impactful technology, hands on,” Legault explains.


Right now, the Amino kit is optimized for use with a friendly, non-dangerous type of bacteria generally used in labs for research. This strain, which arrives in a test tube, is rated BSL1 (lowest biosafety level 1) by the Center for Disease Control. In other words, it’s non-pathogenic and doesn’t require special containment equipment. Ideally, Amino aims to lessen the fear and complexity from basic interactions with bioengineering. It empowers Makers and students alike to experience synthetic biology, all while discovering an important and complex topic in an intuitive way.

“At Amino, we think of DNA programs like an Android or iPhone ‘apps’ for living cells. But even more, keeping living cells alive outside of their normal environment requires other growth liquids, like food, and chemicals. Amino apps are a combination of the DNA programs and the growth liquids,” Legault adds.


For starters, you’ll be able to employ Amino to grow your own living nightlight by combining the harmless strain of E. coli with synthetic firefly DNA. Legault hopes to introduce new kits that would eventually enable Makers to develop their own yeast for baking, bacteria for yogurt, or more importantly, explore a variety of DNA programs such as optimizing the pathway for violacein production, an expensive anti-cancer research agent. Just think: What if many millions of people from around the world could help solve cancer, instead of a small number of scientists?

To make this all possible, the former MIT Media Lab team is partnering with Synbiota, a company that makes DNA programming as simple as LEGO. By using their technology, Makers will be one day able to devise their own genetic apps and insert them into cells with Amino. Aside from that, Amino will also come with an automated cleaning system. This way, when it’s time to start a new project, simply run a clean cycle, change out the modular chamber and you’re good to go!

Intrigued by this “Arduino-like kit for synthetic biology?” Head over to Amino’s Indiegogo campaign, where Legault and the Amino Labs crew are currently seeking $12,500. Delivery is slated for June 2016.

25 smart crowdfunding campaigns you may want to back this week

Every Friday, we’re taking a look at some of the smartest, most innovative projects that caught our attention on Kickstarter and Indiegogo over the last seven days. 



This modular smartwatch lets you piece together various links on its strap, each with their own function. BLOCKS has accrued well over its initial Kickstarter goal of $250,000.



This series of high-res, upgradable 3D printers provide Makers with a touchscreen user interface, remote monitoring and print job management via Wi-Fi and Ethernet. Raise3D has already well surpassed its goal of $50,000 on Kickstarter.



This lineup of embedded sportswear stimulates each of your major muscle groups to help you achieve your fitness goals faster than ever. Antelope Club has blown right past its $50,000 goal on Indiegogo.



This DIY kits empowers Makers to assemble, configure and control their own robot. KEYi Technology is currently seeking $75,000 on Kickstarter.

Glassy Zone


This wearable device tracks your surfing activity as well as your exposure to UV rays. Glassy Pro is currently seeking $35,000 on Indiegogo.



This beautifully-crafted camera system empowers drivers to easily capture, edit and share interesting moments right from the road. Waylens has already quadrupled its goal of $55,000 on Kickstarter.

Shammane Smartwatch


This elegant wearable packs all of the technology and connectivity you’d expect from a smartwatch, without sacrificing style. Shammane is currently $55,000 on Indiegogo.



This upgrade for your existing intercom allows you to enjoy all the benefits of a smart lock without having to change a single thing at your door. LOCUMI LABS just hit its goal of $56,860 on Kickstarter.



This innovative, cloud-linked computer will make it so that you never again have to worry about your hard drive, backing up files or installing software. Solu Machines is currently seeking $227,812 on Kickstarter.



This set of wireless earbuds features a battery-boosting smartphone case for charging and storage. Alpha Audiotronics is currently seeking $200,000 on Kickstarter.



This reliable, high-speed desktop 3D printer spits out objects six times faster than other consumer machines. Readybox has successfully attained its $12,000 goal on Kickstarter.



This countertop-sized biolab enables you to grow living cells and to create new and interesting things, such as fragrances, flavours, materials and medicine. Amino Labs is currently seeking $12,500 on Indiegogo.

Felfil Evo


This open source 3D printer extruder lets you produce your own filament ranging in color, diameter and material. Collettivo Cocomeri is currently seeking $34,172 on Kickstarter.



This connected unit backs up the content from all your devices, either automatically or upon request. Novathings is currently seeking $79,605 on Kickstarter.



This small, lightweight and ready-to-fly APRS tracker will diminish the headaches and costs associated with high-altitude ballooning. Mike Bales is currently seeking $22,000 on Kickstarter.



This smart, customizable and extremely fun doorbell allows you to select from various modes, and to monitor the doorstep right from your smartphone. meeba is currently seeking $40,000 on Indiegogo.



This pair of earbuds lets you to enjoy high-quality sound, all while accessing your smartphone with simple voice commands and slight head movements. LBTECH is currently seeking $250,000 on Kickstarter.



This body scanner can quickly and accurately take your measurements to ensure you always get perfectly-fitting clothes when shopping online. Tom Brooks and Pietro Veragouth are currently seeking $30,000 on Kickstarter.



This unobtrusive system analyzes electricity usage and sensor data to learn an elderly person’s daily routine and notify family members know if things don’t seem right. Howz is currently seeking $91,981 on Kickstarter.



This medical-grade lens attaches to any smartphone camera, enabling you to take crystal-clear images of the moles on your skin. First Derm is currently seeking $25,000 on Indiegogo.



This Arduino-compatible, USB MIDI controller bridges the gap between hardware and software to offer you a complete synthesizer experience. Soudforce Controllers is currently seeking $17,036 on Kickstarter.



This 15-centimeter interactive binary ruler not only lets you draw straight lines, but boasts seven logic gates, four flip flops and a four-bit binary counter. Bradley Slattery is currently seeking $2,935 on Kickstarter.

Tinker Tie


This hackable, Arduino-compatible LED bow-tie can last over 20 hours on a single charge. Atom Computer is currently seeking $1,000 on Kickstarter.



This nifty little gadget converts your body heat into everlasting light, without any external energy source. Rost is currently seeking $5,000 on Kickstarter.

Did you happen to miss last week’s notable campaigns? If so, you can check them out here.