Data collection via IoT-enabled smart labs could eliminate human error in research and development. Illustration: © IoT For All Technological progression and scientific advancement have always gone hand in hand. We are living in an age of constant scientific discovery, born from both the efficiency of scientists in the modern age and the desire to extend our knowledge about the natural world. Every day, scientists inch closer to successfully bioprinting complex organs, curing diseases with gene editing and perfecting predictive medicine. Collectively, these breakthroughs have the ability to significantly alter many aspects of our lives. However, the current research environment does not maximize researcher potential. As a result of this, research papers have had to be retracted, and discovery yield has subsequently been affected. The solution is the implementation of the Internet of Things (IoT) into the laboratory environment to add a new layer of efficiency to the way research and development are conducted and bring us closer to achieving the smart lab. The Problem with the Current System Scientific growth is obstructed by a number of barriers that exist in the laboratory. Barriers come in the form of human errors, compliance issues or simply a lack of communication between devices and researchers. Currently, scientists face the daily task of manually recording data output from the machines, a repetitive method that is not only time-consuming but also carries a risk of human error as all humans make mistakes from time to time. Other issues that often arise are related to data loss, which can happen when a scientist is too selective on what to record; paired with this is the issue that sometimes scientists are not able to decipher handwritten notes or data. These common issues every laboratory faces are perpetuated by the lack of connectivity in the laboratory, both between equipment and researchers, and nothing solves connectivity issues better than an IoT-enabling system. Overcoming Issues with IoT The main objective of implementing IoT into the laboratory is to achieve a more effective way of conducting experiments and collecting research data. The implementation of IoT enabled devices will facilitate the connection of all elements of the laboratory from scales to centrifuges. With this technology, machine output can be directly streamed into a digital format, saving the scientist valuable time and effort along with eradicating the risk of human error. An IoT enabled laboratory will see all devices connected to the cloud or local server, that can be controlled by the researcher externally and accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. With a number of devices and sensors connected to a central system, scientists will be able to conduct their experiments in a more productive manner, without unnecessary obstructions or error-related complications. IoT can take many different forms in the laboratory, and the most common is in the form of automation. Some vendors propose the best course of action to be automating all laboratory equipment, down to material containers. However, this can often be an expensive solution only available to […]
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