iGEM Biohackathon Project

Jonas Johansson
Aug 4 · 7 min read

Take me to the candy shop 🍬

We began sharing a document with the team which included basic information about the event as well as some contribution guidelines. Proposals required a Title, description of the Idea, as well as a definition of Context. We would be very happy if any of these ideas were made, and if they already exist, please write to us at info@igem.se. Here we go!

Lab Assistant

An application that listens to commands and transcribes spoken words into a text log. The commands would be predefined and relevant for the work being done.


A digital service which provides suggestions based on collective research and data. The idea here is that there are often things going sideways in the lab and that all of our learnings could become a great shared resource.

Restriction digestion

Checking sequences on the computer (SnapGene or VectorNTI software) is tiresome! A better solution would be to open .dna type files (or other, simpler DNA sequence files) on the phone to import sequences, show features of those sequences (promoter/gene/terminator etc), and, importantly, allow to select one or several restriction enzymes to analyze what restriction products you get and what their sizes (bp) are.

Biotechnology Recipe Book

A solution that enables the rescaling of components. We imagine this as a recipe book where successful and failed experiments are documented along with the ratios used. A quick calculator can easily scale the project up and down within a certain percentage, and when the scaling doesn’t make sense there would be informative prompts.

Time Keeper

There are so many ways of taking time, but in the end, we still seem to occasionally fail, or miss a few minutes. This idea attempts at simplifying timekeeping as you can create, edit or choose options such as “incubation” or “heat shock”. The times should be logged, ring an alarm and prompt the user for documentation. Several people should be able to experience the alarm going off locally on their device.

Smart Researcher

An app that provides a holistic view to scattered data points, aimed at speeding up the innovation & research process. For instance, selecting qualitative sources, which when provided with keywords produce a reading package. The smart researcher goes from mention to mention and traverses a large amount of data. Could use education libraries or paper abstracts.

Brick 🧱 the Biobrick Designer

Have you tried looking up information about the iGEM parts? We have, and we don’t approve of the process… The registry in its current state (August 2019) lacks a sense of overview and simple navigation, we aimed to remedy that.

1. Wireframes! ✊

We decided early on that we wanted “form to follow function”. We began by outlining the application using Whimsical, a collaborative design tool. After not even an hour we had a rough wireframe going.

2. Spreadsheets! 🏓 (because we used tables…)

The absolute fastest way of building a database is not setting up a MySQL or similar, it’s using Google Spreadsheet, making it public, and then fetching the results as JSON. And that’s what we did.

3. Forms! 📝

Since we are using Spreadsheets, a great way of gathering information is to couple it with Forms! This service comes with tons of greatness that would take several hours to code well. When the user has created their sequence, downloaded and reviewed it, they can access a form which encourages them to share their work. This information gets, you guessed it, added to a spreadsheet which is used on a separate part of the Brick app. We added this as we believe that we could generally improve in how we share our learnings between teams and individuals.

4. HTML/CSS and JavaScript + more!

Everything was done with the basic building blocks of web development. There’s very little motivation to build native iOS or Android apps or use Python when there are the all-mighty web development tools which work cross-platform, cross-devices.

Onwards and upwards

A hackathon is such a great opportunity for exploring specific challenges fast. Perhaps we organize our own next year since we saw just how much potential such an event holds. Either way, we are very happy to have been part of the event made by the Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM team and look forward to future activities!

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