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Digital assistance systems have not yet moved into the labs

March 17, 2022
Digitale Assistenzsysteme für die biomedizinische Forschung
© Julia Koblitz on

A side effect of the digital transformation within work environments is a flood of available information. Triggered by the multiple forms of digital communication and mobile devices, many working people complain about “too much” information from which relevant data has to be filtered. This disrupts the efficiency of work processes, the creativity of employees and thus the quality of the work result.

The paradox is that the opposite – being cut off from information – provides the same effects in the field of biomedical research. Security barriers between the laboratory workstation and the office infrastructure make it difficult to achieve a smooth workflow from data collection to information processing and knowledge discovery – the fundamental principle of science. Various digital assistance systems for laboratory use have been developed in recent years to counteract these difficulties, which also restrict the creative process of scientific work.

The concepts and solutions investigated by Gerald Schneikart, Researcher of the Institute for Digital Transformation and Strategy (IDS) at FHWien der WKW, cover a wide range of areas of laboratory work.

  • Automation of repetitive work steps
  • Electronic lab books and pipetting aids
  • Touchscreen devices for office work in the laboratory area
  • Augmented reality glasses for information visualization
  • Speech assistance systems for device and access control

A common goal of all studied applications is to improve the efficiency and quality of research as well as the reproducibility of experiments. Even though the digital assistance systems studied were designed for biomedical research, with adaptations they can also be applied to other laboratory situations. Nevertheless, a broad implementation of the mostly disruptive technologies in research institutions cannot be observed so far. On the one hand, this is explained by the still missing market maturity of some digital assistance concepts. On the other hand, the implementation of operational solutions fails primarily because of the costs involved and a partial incompatibility with already established systems.

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