May 23rd 2020
Take a look at the software solutions helping scientists continue research outside of the lab
Scientists are at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19. Each day researchers around the world work tirelessly to discover more about the virus in the hopes that a successful vaccine can be created. Yet, with many laboratories behind the digitisation trend, some are not as productive as they could be. With research and development now in the limelight, it is the time for laboratories to invest in digital solutions such as AI and Automation that will not only help scientists adapt to working remotely, but also improve productivity in the laboratory, and subsequently increase discovery yield.
IoT and Automation
COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of research and development to the world. It has also stimulated meaningful debate on how we can make the laboratory a more productive environment. Automation and the Internet of Things (IoT) are being viewed as the solutions to help maximise research potential, this is achieved by the technology taking on the high volume of repetitive tasks that were previously the responsibility of the scientist.
Automation is just one aspect to consider when thinking of the digitalisation of the laboratory environment. When paired with the internet of things (IoT), a researcher is not only able to control their devices, but also monitor every aspect of an experiment from inception to conclusion. With connected receptors that monitor temperature, movement and other environmental conditions constantly, a scientist will be able to conduct an experiment without actually being present in the laboratory. This, in turn, will allow greater flexibility, as experiments will be performed at the optimal time, rather than a time that fits into a scientist’s busy schedule.
Moreover, with IoT constantly recording data on the environmental changes of the experiment, a scientist will have extra data so they can ascertain what conditions are best for the experiment. This will make the laboratory a smarter, more efficient environment. The impact these changes will have on the world of science is extensive and could not only help with the current pandemic but also place researchers in a better position to combat future pandemics and the other challenges we face in the modern age.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Automation is a key step towards a more productive laboratory, but it is not the only one required to achieve a truly “Smart” laboratory. In order for automation potential to be fulfilled, it should be used alongside some form of machine learning or artificial intelligence (AI). These laboratory forms of AI consist of algorithms that learn with experience, giving them the ability to perform tasks that traditionally depended on a researcher.
Switching from paper to digital
In this rapidly evolving situation, all laboratories, regardless of whether they are academia or industry, need to adapt to ensure that research can continue. COVID-19 has not only exposed to the world the importance of scientific research, but also the role of digitisation in furthering science. With an increase in financial support, research laboratories can implement digital technologies that can drastically improve productivity levels in the laboratory. This will put the world in a better position to not only deal with the current pandemic but also future challenges we are likely to face in decades to come.