1st Playable Productions and Stanford University propose to develop a commercialized version of biotic games; a novel medium for formal and informal biology education that allows student users to playfully control the behavior of living cells. The Playscope is an interactive biotics gaming kit designed to engage middle and high school students in the sciences by combining phone based gaming with traditional science microscopy. The proposed project combines the development of 1) a variety of hardware platforms for biotic game play, such as an attachment for existing school microscopes, and a 3D printable kit that users can assemble themselves; 2) an initial biotic game called Euglena Ball where users must control Euglena cells in a microfluidic chamber to move a virtual soccer ball into a goal by using a joystick to activate light sources that repel the cells; and 3) a modular extensible toolkit for development of future games using different organism and stimuli. By transforming microscopy from an observation based to an interactive process the Playscope Biotics Game Kit puts the student in the role of a first-hand researcher, interacting directly with simple organisms in a discovery experience that provokes curiosity and creativity. The Playscope has the potential to increase student understanding of living systems that are currently taught through abstract textbooks, static models, and directive hands on materials that have remained unchanged for decades, with a long term objective of increasing the number of young people choosing science related career paths. We expect wide distribution of this approach over the next few years; every school microscope will be empowered to be interactive and playful.

Public Health Relevance

The PlayScope combines phone based gaming with traditional microscopy allowing students to observe and interact with living systems in formal and informal educational settings. The goal of the PlayScope is to grow students' interests in biotechnology with authentic unicellular interactions, inspiring young people to choose related career paths, including those that can benefit public health.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Office of The Director, National Institutes of Health (OD)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase I (R43)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
Program Officer
Beck, Lawrence A
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
1st Playable Productions, LLC
United States
Zip Code
Kim, Honesty; Gerber, Lukas Cyrill; Chiu, Daniel et al. (2016) Correction: LudusScope: Accessible Interactive Smartphone Microscopy for Life-Science Education. PLoS One 11:e0168053
Kim, Honesty; Gerber, Lukas Cyrill; Chiu, Daniel et al. (2016) LudusScope: Accessible Interactive Smartphone Microscopy for Life-Science Education. PLoS One 11:e0162602