Genetic Art Reviews for Impute

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At a Glance

Editor's Rating:
3.5 out of 5 stars
Customer Service:
4 out of 5 stars
Clarity of Results:
4 out of 5 stars
References Cited:
5 out of 5 stars
Value for Money:
5 out of 5 stars

Summary

I thought ‘Kandinskyfy Your Genome’ was a fun tool, and it was interesting to see my genomic data presented in a more visual way. I liked that the art created was unique to my genetic code, which gave it a personal touch. Though the Impute website was rather basic and not easy to navigate at first, for a free service I thought it was very generous.

Full Review

Impute.me is a non-profit website run by independent academics, offering genetics analysis. The site was established in 2015, and is led by Lasse Folkersen, the lead scientist at Sankt Hans Hospital, Denmark. They aim to provide up-to-the-minute genetic analysis using the latest research, and to present technical information in a way that is s user-friendly as possible.

Product Expectations

At first glance, the Impute.me site appears pretty basic. Clicking on “Modules” in the navigation bar, I found a list of the types of tests they offered, including a ‘Rare Diseases’ test, a ‘Mutation senser’ and something called ‘Politics’, which turned out to be a “sanity check” looking at whether genetics could predict a person’s political opinions.

One of their tools was ‘Kandinskyfy your Genome’, which I read would generate art in the style of Wassily Kandinsky using my genomic data. I read that most places offering genetic art “actually just use very few SNPs”, which I gathered meant they didn’t use many individual genetic variants to create their artworks. I read that Impute’s tool would combine all of my trait-associated genetic variants to create my art, though precisely how many or which traits these variants were associated with, they didn’t say.

I could use a sample ID to generate an example art piece, and I wondered how similar my own would be to this.

Ordering Experience

It wasn’t incredibly obvious how to upload my genetic data. But in the “Modules” drop-down menu I found an item labelled “ImputeMe (start here)”.

Here, I found I could upload my data without the need to create an account, though I did need to provide an email address so that my results could be emailed to me.

I read that I could upload my genetic measurements “such as those provided by 23andMe or ancestry.com”. They would then use imputation technology to fill in “millions of additional genetic variations that were not measured in the original data.” There was a link to a video on Kickstarter to explain this process, which would use “overall knowledge of human ethnicity and ancestry” to make educated guesses about the gaps in my genetic data.

I was surprised to find that once I uploaded my data, the imputation process would take “a few days”, after which I’d receive an email with a login ID, which would enable me to use Impute’s genetic analysis tools.

I uploaded my genetic data file, which I had already downloaded from 23andMe. It took about a minute for the file to upload. I entered my email, and left the box ticked to allow my data to be deleted after two weeks. There was a link to the “Terms of use”.

Clicking this took me to a very basic webpage with no navigation options. The Terms of Use were very short. Still, they seemed reasonable and transparent enough. I learnt that the site was non-profit and intended for educational and research purposes. They claimed no responsibility for any medical interpretations that users might make from their results.

I read that they took my anonymity “much more seriously than any other online genetics-service”, and would require only an email address to send me my results. I could choose to have my genetic data deleted two weeks after imputation, though it would be deleted anyway if the server was full.

They reserved the right to contact participants by email to ask if they would be interested in “follow-up discussions on academic research”, and claimed these emails were “entirely ignorable”. Well… fine.

Back on the upload page, I hit “Start imputation”, and a message popped up telling me that it would typically take between one and five days for my genomic data to be processed, depending on server queue. I would receive an email with my unique user ID and download instructions. I was immediately sent an email telling me my data was queued for imputation.

A couple of days later, I received an email telling me my imputed genome was ready.

The Results

The email contained a link to download a copy of my imputed genome, and also a login ID for Impute.me, which would allow me to use their genetic analysis tools. There was a link to donate to the site using PayPal.

Results Section: Kandinskyfy Your Genome

Going back to the Impute website, I selected “Kandinskyfy yourself” in the “Modules” drop-down menu. I entered my login ID, and my digital art was created almost instantly (shown below).

Click to see larger
My Kandinskyfied genome.

My Kandinskyfied genome.

As you can see, the artwork the tool created used layers of brightly-coloured intersecting geometric shapes to create my artwork, which resembled some of Kandinsky’s later work.

There was a link to the website where the code was from, and so I was able to get a general idea of how they had used different parts of my DNA to form my artwork. My piece looked rather different from the sample they’d shown, and so I was reasonably confident that it was unique to my DNA.

There was a link to download a PDF of my art, or I could right click and save the picture on the website. When I went to download the PDF, I found that the shape of the art was different, being square as opposed to rectangular (shown below).

Click to see larger
The PDF version of my art.

The PDF version of my art.

As you can see, some elements of the PDF version were compressed. Though after looking at it and then at the other version, I thought some elements of the rectangular one appeared stretched, and so I preferred the square version.

If I wanted to, I was able to print off my art and have a physical copy.

Summary

I thought ‘Kandinskyfy Your Genome’ was a fun tool, and it was interesting to see my genomic data presented in a more visual way. I liked that the art created was unique to my genetic code, which gave it a personal touch. Though the Impute website was rather basic and not easy to navigate at first, for a free service I thought it was very generous.

See a description of this DNA test from Impute >