Laboratory technology changes

ne of the things that 2020 has done is it has created a tipping point in the laboratory. People will find they need to reconfigure lab space and the configurations of labs. But we are also seeing higher demand to make the lab available.

How can people work from outside the facility? How can people access data when they are not inside the laboratory? How can they collaborate when they cannot travel as easily as they did? How can they control their experiments and run their lab without being inside it?

A lot of those drivers that we are seeing in all aspects of society at the moment are going to continue to persevere. We are finding that there is a very significant increase in people wanting to see technology shoulder some of the burden and assist in the changing parameters of the workspace. We are seeing it in every industry and every walk of life, but it is also being clearly illustrated in the laboratory.

We are doing a lot of work around cloud-based computing platforms, collaboration environments, data moment and data storage. There is a lot of work going on at the moment around connected instruments and how data can flow more easily.

Stephen Hayward, Biovia technical marketing manager:

Transformation of the user experience with the inclusion of advanced techniques. For example, voice recognition, where a use case would be dictating observations and results utilising scientific awareness in the recording process.

Transfer to cloud-based systems, driven by corporate IT policy changes – this enables more remote access, which is becoming critical in times of a pandemic

AI – truly leveraging all existing knowledge from the lab to better guide future work. Finally, augmented reality technology which can transform lab process execution – visualising additional contextual information, or alerts about sample status and pending tasks.

Many lab technicians are considered ‘essential workers’, so they have continued working during a pandemic. But the way of working has changed. Teams working in the lab are now split into smaller groups that are working in shifts to minimise contact while covering the workload. This makes efficient and flexible laboratory scheduling critical.

Additionally, all tasks that are not related to physical activities in the lab are now performed remotely. Therefore, it is important to be able to work with experimental data away from the lab while retaining contextual data for decision making, which is typically supported by cloud solutions.

How has Covid-19 changed how the scientific ecosystem works together?

Arvind Kothandaraman, general manager diagnostics, PerkinElmer:

A major takeaway from Covid-19 has been that every second matters when it comes to a response. In order to be more nimble and agile, labs require tools with high levels of sensitivity and reliability in order to detect disease, develop therapeutics and discover preventive measures that can be taken before there is an opportunity for a surge to begin. Early detection and diagnostics are vital for labs, as screening becomes the new normal.

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