Biochips, or digital labs-on-chip, are developed with the purpose of being used by laboratory technicians or biologists in laboratories or clinics. In this article, we expand this vision with the goal of enabling everyone, regardless of their expertise, to use biochips for their own personal purposes. We developed OpenDrop, an integrated electromicrofluidic platform that allows users to develop and program their own bio-applications. We address the main challenges that users may encounter: accessibility, bio-protocol design and interaction with microfluidics. OpenDrop consists of a do-it-yourself biochip, an automated software tool with visual interface and a detailed technique for at-home operations of microfluidics. We report on two years of use of OpenDrop, released as an open-source platform. Our platform attracted a highly diverse user base with participants originating from maker communities, academia and industry. Our findings show that 47% of attempts to replicate OpenDrop were successful, the main challenge remaining the assembly of the device. In terms of usability, the users managed to operate their platforms at home and are working on designing their own bio-applications. Our work provides a step towards a future in which everyone will be able to create microfluidic devices for their personal applications, thereby democratizing parts of health care.
(2017). OpenDrop: An Integrated Do-It-Yourself Platform for Personal Use of Biochips. Bioengineering, 4(4), 45. https://doi.org/10.3390/bioengineering4020045