Bento Lab

Bento Lab is the first in the world personal laboratory that enables scientists, biohackers, artists, and all curious minds to use essential lab tools anywhere and any time.

At Bento I worked on Bento's product design, user experience, and visual identity, as well as related elements of strategy and planning. In March 2016 Bento Lab launched on Kickstarter.

The Bento Lab
Photos by Maik Kleinschmidt for Bento Bioworks

The Bento Lab houses a powerful 3D-printed centrifuge, a mini PCR machine, and a gel electrophoresis unit with blue LED transillumination. Everything fits in a portable A4-sized dibond box.

Bento Lab features Bento Lab features
Bento Lab: gel electrophoresis unit
Bento Lab: pcr machine and thermocycler
Bento Lab: mini centrifuge
Bento Lab: control panel

When used in regular biotech labs the Bento Lab can serve as a compact, personal prototyping "sandbox" for testing out hypotheses and conducting draft experiments.

Using the Bento Lab Using the Bento Lab

Bento Lab is portable, so it can be used to do basic lab work in almost any given setting, for instance at home, in the office, and even outdoors.

Using the Bento Lab Using the Bento Lab

In 2013 I joined the UCL iGEM:E team to advise on a portable lab-in-the-box project. Initially, we called it Darwin Toolbox. The first version was enclosed inside an off-the-shelve suitcase for protection and portability. In later design versions we designed a bespoke dibond casing for the lab.

Prototyping the Bento Lab Prototyping the Bento Lab Prototyping the Bento Lab

We built several prototypes and used them for testing with prospective users. Insights from conversations with bioengineers and biohackers informed not only our work on the Bento Lab hardware, but also sparked ideas for potential services around the kit itself.

Bento Lab user testing
Bento Lab user testing
Bento Lab user testing
Bento Lab user testing

The Bento Lab was presented multiple times in shows, conferences, and workshops around the world, including the iGEM 2013 competition at the MIT in Boston (when the Bento Lab was still known as Darwin Toolbox).

The Bento Lab won several competitions, grants, and awards, including the UCL London Entrepreneurs' Challenge 2014, and the 2014 UCL Bright Ideas Award.