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The touchless research lab experience

Pradyumna Pendse
April 6, 2021

Significant effort is required to plan, schedule, execute the experiments, but labs never function 100% of their capacity, with administrative elements eating away at 35% of a researcher’s time. Besides that, labs tend to face cost pressures and funding hurdles. These factors, along with the challenges associated with running research labs in the midst of a global pandemic, mean that it’s critical for researchers to find ways to improve the efficiency of their efforts.

Enter touchless technologies like voice assistants. They solve for a multitude of challenges researchers face when trying to capture observations and results in a lab setting, from requirements to wear safety gear that can make it hard to take notes to rules and regulations about what kinds of devices can be brought in due to the risk of damage. In a lab environment, voice assistants can help researchers easily record experiment details in real time without losing focus or needing to use their hands or bulky equipment.

In addition to vastly simplifying the process of data capture, voice assistants also offer enhanced functionality that drives efficiency in a lab environment, including the following:

  • Integration with laboratory information management systems (LIMS), which enables researchers to add tasks to project backlogs and plan them later when they are in front of a laptop. This can improve planning and increase productivity.
  • Recording of experiment details on electronic laboratory notebooks (ELN) in real-time, eliminating the need to manually copy lab notebooks after an experiment.
  • Automation of repetitive tasks through the creation of modules integrated with ELNs that can be triggered by voice assistants. Because researchers often produce and analyze a similar amount of data , it’s helpful to automate these tasks.
  • Extraction of relevant data at the right moment, which helps scientists gain control and reduce time spent on administrative processes related to finding data for similar or past experiments

Key considerations for implementing voice assistants for research labs

But there are number of things that organizations need to keep in mind when implementing voice assistants for research labs. Voice assistant solutions should have the following capabilities:

  • Accurate speech-to-text conversion for complex lab interactions
  • Configuration of custom invoke commands for complex interactions
  • Maintenance of privacy and security for research data
  • Management of multiple users
  • Customized user experience with limited functionalities
  • Need-to-know access to experiment documentation
  • Natural language processing as well as advanced text analytics that can handle complex text statements or commands and perform Natural Language Understanding.
  • Interface and Integration of voice assistants with eLN and LIMS.

In addition, organizations must  choose the right platform for their business needs.. There are a number of technology platforms available in the market that have voice assistant capability, from AWS Alexa to Azure Bot Service bot.

Capgemini can help determine the right solution for your needs. Additionally, we have developed many accelerators related to voice assistant, and have a team of experts that can help build a touchless experience that improves productivity, ensures compliance, and guarantees safety.