Microcontrollers are programmable, integrated circuit chips. In the last two decades, their applications to industrial instruments, vehicles, and household appliances have reached the extent that microcontrollers are now the number-one selling electronic chip of all kinds. Simultaneously, the field of lab-on-a-chip research and technology has seen major technological leaps towards sample handling, sample preparation, and sensing for use in molecular diagnostic devices. Yet, the transformation from a laboratory based lab-on-a-chip technology to actual point-of-care device products has largely been limited to a fraction of the foreseen potential. We believe that increased knowledge of the vast possibilities that becomes available with open source microcontrollers, especially when embedded in easy-to-use development environments, such as the Arduino or Raspberry Pi, could potentially solve and even bridge the gap between lab-on-a-chip technology and real-life point of care applications. The profuse availability and extraordinary capabilities of microcontrollers, namely within computation, communication, and networking, combined with easy-to-use development environments, as well as a very active and fast moving community of makers, who are eager to share their knowledge, could potentially be the difference between a dreadful “chip-in-a-lab”-situation, and the next successful start-up. Here follows a brief insight into how open source microcontrollers could potentially have a transformative effect on the field of lab-on-a-chip research and technology. Details in some specific areas of application are briefly treated before addressing challenges and future perspectives.
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