At our lab of the future breakout session, we explored two cases:
- Enhancing the laboratory for scientists through real time data
- Centrally controlled laboratory instrumentation through a single hub rather than PC to optimise the laboratory
Real Time Data:
How could the experience of lab-based scientists be enhanced by making multiple sources of real time data (eg. IoT-enabled ambient condition monitoring, status of running experiments) available to them on demand. Matt Krammer (TetraScience) set up a demo showing how a personalized dashboard could be accessed by researchers in the lab, using a bluetooth beacon frequently applied in proximity marketing.
This is one example of technologies widely applied in many industries that we are yet to leverage
in the laboratory environment. The participants discussed the potentially relevant sources of data for such dashboard & other possible data consumption methods (eg. google glasses, voice-activated devices such as Alexa). However it was noted the fruition of the case heavily depends on the data integration stage, pointing to challenges associated with data and instrument standardization.
Centralised Instrument Control and Data Capture
On another case, brought forward by our pharma colleagues at Merck, we looked at how the laboratory infrastructure could be improved with special reference to instruments in the lab. Today, there is a 1 to 1 ratio between most instruments and computers through which those instruments are controlled. Could we reduce this ratio by controlling multiple instruments via a generic controller; thereby generate more space for actual experimentation in the lab? The community indicated a platform approach as a desired path forward; ‘an exposed controller via web interface’.
Additionally, as we move to a vision of the lab of the future, (towards which we have taken the first steps by storing data in the cloud), Can we also perform the data transformation & analysis that currently relies on software installed in lab-based computers, in the cloud environment? Along the way, how do we approach issues such as latency, modularization, security & scalability.
The Lab of the Future Community of Interest will be building on the discussion initiated at the Boston conference, bringing our members across instrument manufacturers, software vendors and pharma/end users to gain a coherent understanding of the challenges involved, identify the priorities & convert the business cases to projects that would benefit our multiple stakeholders in the ecosystem.