Biospark is a portable qPCR (Real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction) machine that is capable of amplifying and detecting trace amounts of DNA. The primary goal of Biospark is to provide labs, medical centers and practitioners in developing countries an affordable platform that will progress the state of healthcare.

Knowledge: Electronics • Interaction Design • Product Design • Biology & Chemistry
Tools: Altium Designer (Schematic & PCB capture) • Photoshop • Illustrator • Pencil & Paper
Team: Filipp Demenschonok
Status: Hardware prototyping phase (Dec 2016)


1. qPCR is not easily portable and accessible in rural regions of the world.
2. qPCR is not cheap for under-priviledged nations.
3. qPCR requires the prescence of medically trained professionals.


1. Create a portable and rugged form factor that can be handheld.
2. Find a balance between cost and accuracy.
3. The product is easy to use by anyone at anytime (similar to an automated external defibrillator).
4. Add value by creating beneficial byproducts to the user at no extra cost.


Growing up in a developing country, I witnessed first hand the effects of disease on individuals and families. I was fortunate enough to not live in poverty but was not fortunate enough to help those in need at that time. Diseases like Malaria and food or waterborne parasites ran rampant and without easily accesible health care and testing most people fell victim.

1. There is a 34.1% mortality rate in low-income nations from infectious/parastic diseases (source).
2. PCR machines in labs usually start at a cost of about USD$5500 and are not real-time.
3. Current PCR machines require a lab technician or medical professional to use them.


My teammate and I indentified a gap in the health orgranization where quick and accurate diagnoses could save lives. Now, instead of waiting for a doctor to perform a symptomatic diagnosis, we could create a machine that would in as little as 20 minutes tell a patient if they have an infection or parasite using a small blood sample.

We decided to call this product BioSpark.


I was responsible for the mechanical design of the internal features and industrial design, including color, materials and finish. In addition I created the user interaction scenarios, user interfaces and visual design of all the software.


For BioSpark to be a viable product we need to think of long term sustainability. Here is a quick summary of our business proposal once a viable product has been created:

1. Sell the BioSpark Thermocyclers at a competive pricing to established hospitals or labs.
2. Provide the BioSpark Thermocyclers free to various health organizations in poor nations.
3. The vials to be used with BioSpark containing the reagents will be sold to everyone.
4. The distribution of the vials will be our long-term source of income to support the company.


Note: The BioSpark design has a provisional patent with the USPTO

This is a very brief description of how the BioSpark Thermocycler works.

PCR is basically a very tightly controlled thermal cycling of reagents (template DNA, which is the DNA under test, primers and other stuff I won't go into here).

To tightly control the thermal cycling we use a Peltier element with a heat sink and a fan. This allows us to control the heating/cooling of the reagent.

After the PCR cycles are complete, we strobe a light of a known wavelength and send it through various light filters and the reagent. We then receive a light of a certain wavelength. Based on the received wavelength we can determine the pathogen or parasite.

We then alert the user of the results.

This was an initial concept of what BioSpark was going to look like. This idea was scrapped because of the following reasons:

1. The data and power ports would not fit in the back because of the Peltier block
2. The design wasn't very handheld and was better suited for a table top
3. If the display is angled down then our manufacturing costs would increase

This is the final CAD for the BioSpark thermocycler. It is more user friendly, cheaper to produce, more robust and can easily fit all the elements of the thermal system

Before I start forming a model in SolidWorks I usually sketch out my ideas to figure out dimensions, shape and angles. It helps me to eliminate ideas that can never work and then put it on a computer. Here are some sketches of concepts for the BioSpark thermocycler

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