If you’ve ever wondered what tomorrow’s intelligent laboratories might look like, the smartLAB showcase is the place to go to find answers. smartLAB will be in its second season in 2017, having premiered successfully in 2015. It will be held from 16 to 18 May in Hannover, Germany, at LABVOLUTION, Europe’s flagship fair for innovative lab equipment and laboratory workflow optimization. LABVOLUTION is staged alongside BIOTECHNICA life sciences show, so there will be plenty of synergies on offer. Visitors to next year’s smartLAB showcase will be able to immerse themselves in the rapidly evolving world of intelligent, digitally enhanced laboratory systems.
“Flexible, digital integration, automation and robotics, integrated functional surfaces and modular systems – these are the things tomorrow’s laboratories are made of,” commented Dr. Simon Bungers, the CEO of Berlin-based software company labfolder and spokesperson for the smartLAB Group. Concrete examples of this convergence of technologies will once again be presented by multiple enterprises and institutions from science and industry. Under the overall leadership of the Institute of Technical Chemistry at Leibniz University Hannover, they are combining their expertise and solutions to create fully digitalized systems that encompass all laboratory work processes. Their current focus is on visualization, interaction and communication – which is why smartLAB 2017 is taglined “communicating science interactively.”
The smartLAB 2017 showcase will feature several devices that are new to laboratory integration. These include an interactive dispenser, a QR code scanner, an SLS (selective laser sintering) 3D printer and an induction charging station for mobile devices. The interactive dimension will be supplied by a robotic arm that has been tested and licensed for human-machine interaction in the lab, an app that visitors can use to directly view the SmartLAB display’s laboratory information management system (LIMS), and a remote presence robot.
Of course, the key benefit of the smartLAB lies not in the unique or special nature of its individual components, but in how those components interact with one another. “We have a truly holistic view of laboratory value chains and are developing smart solutions accordingly,” smartLab Group spokesperson Simon Bungers explained. “We are using the smartLAB initiative to explore options for radically simplifying lab processes and documentation while enhancing quality and efficiency,” he added.
Occupying an area of more than 400 square meters (4,300 sq. ft.), the smartLAB showcase will comprise a showroom housing the actual smartLAB plus an exhibition area where the participating enterprises and institutions can run their own displays and explore various aspects of tomorrow’s intelligent laboratories in presentations and panel discussions.
Among the highlights of the showcase will be a series of daily use-case demonstrations that will paint a very concrete picture of tomorrow’s intelligent laboratories. Three use cases will be demonstrated live on each day of LABVOLUTION. They will be from the fields of biotechnology, environmental technology and food technology. Specifically, they relate to an application for inoculating bioreactors and initiating bioprocess monitoring; an application for determining the phosphate content of soil samples, and an application for testing food samples for the presence of genetically modified components.
The smartLAB project has also spawned the smartLAB Innovation Network – a Germany-wide cluster of companies and research institutions dedicated to the development and standardization of innovative laboratory technologies. The network is part of Germany’s government-sponsored Central Innovation Program (ZIM).