Sequencing the human genome was a task that took major computers and lots of time. Like all technical advances the process got streamlined and became faster and faster. Now a company called Oxford Nanopore Technologies is starting trials of its MinION, a miniaturized disposable gene sequencer that will retail for under $1000.
Though I am not a scientist by a long shot, this excites me greatly. My dad was a researcher in the field of Microbiology and Hematology and I spent many hours in his lab watching the experiments and actually helping out once I was old enough. The idea that a hand-held device can do what once took a super-computer astounds me.
Considering the advances with such medical devices as a pocket sized ultrasound scanner and other miniaturized devices it seems that Dr. McCoy would be right at home. In fact the X Prize folks have set their sights on exactly that kind of idea. The latest award will be for a working Tricorder! I often tell my partner, we are living in Star Trek.