When Will the Lab of the Future Happen?

Thanks to technologies like intelligent Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) software and immersive Virtual Reality (VR) headsets, the Lab of the Future is well within reach. The term is a collective name for a set of digital technologies that are reimagining how modern laboratories operate. This includes everything from sample preparation and data analysis to collaboration.

So, when will the Lab of the Future happen? Below, we take a closer look at the Lab of the Future timeline and spotlight some exciting innovations making waves in the scientific world.

A new age of data analysis

From research and development centers operated by pharma giants like Pfizer to small-scale university facilities, laboratories around the world are embracing smart technologies. For example, Pfizer used novel ‘incubation sandbox’ technology to accelerate data analysis when designing the COVID-19 vaccine. The Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool is called Smart Data Query (SDQ) and slashed the time needed to “clean up” patient data after the trial conclusions. Instead of manually processing the data over a month, SDQ cleaned it up in less than 24 hours.

“It saved us an entire month,” says Vice President and Head of Data Monitoring and Management at Pfizer, Demetris Zambas. “It really has had a significant impact on the first-pass quality of our clinical data and the speed through which we can move things along and make decisions.”

The advent of immersive analytics

In a recent article published in the journal Scientific Reports, the authors explored the use of VR to analyze oncology models. The team explaining how affordable and portable VR systems have reimagined how scientists analyse oncology data. This includes developing a genetic profile, identifying cancer type and designing treatment options.

“We use immersive technologies to analyze the gene expression and clinical data of a cohort of cancer patients. Various machine learning algorithms and visualization methods have also been in VR to enhance the data interrogation process,” reads the article.

State-of-the-art data analysis technologies and machine learning techniques are at the heart of the immersive analytics movement. They help scientists immerse themselves in the data and understand unique patterns and relationships.

“This is supported with established 2D visual analytics and graphical methods in bioinformatics, such as scatter plots, descriptive statistical information, linear regression, box plot and heatmap into our visualisation. Our approach allows the clinician to interrogate the information that is familiar and meaningful to them while providing them immersive analytics capabilities to make new discoveries toward personalized medicine.”

Pushing the limits of the Lab of the Future

In many ways, these types of technologies suggest the Lab of the Future is already here. Of course, there’s still lots of progress to be made before laboratories can truly call themselves futuristic.

So, what’s next for the Lab of the Future? The concept is built on next-generation technology. This means the possibilities are endless when it comes to innovation. So long as technology continues to advance, the Lab of the Future will continue to grow, evolve and innovate. Find out more about some of the tech-driven tools accelerating the Lab of the Future movement in ‘A three-step plan for digital transformation’.

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