Life Technolgies goes to work on applying the recent tech capabilities it acquired with its purchase of sequencing firm Ion Torrent. A benchtop printer-sized DNA sequencing machine based on PostLight semiconductor technology takes a full step off the sequencing procedure, making it possible to go directly from chemical base to digital information.

Not intended for making diagnostics, the Personal Genome Machine is still very much a research tool, measuring in real time the hydrogen ions produced by DNA replication. With its touchscreen interface, 65 pound weight, couple hour turn-around for results, and iPhone/iPod dock, it looks like a perfect example of the ongoing ‘gadgetization’ and miniaturization of real science equipment.

“Point-and-shoot digital cameras opened up photography to everyone because they were fast, cheap and easy – and people saw the results immediately, so they quickly became better photographers,” says Dr. Jonathan M. Rothberg, the founder of Ion Torrent. The device is currently being shipped to several locations in North America, Europe and Asia, with details about the price available only on request.