Both laboratory settings benefit from digitalization and connected devices. In the diagnostics scenario, patient data management, internal laboratory logistics optimization, and accurate identification of samples and test results are paramount. Research laboratories are especially interested in how data from test series can be collected, managed, and interpreted.
In a MEDICA-tradefair.com interview, Dr. Felix Lenk of the Dresden University of Technology (TU Dresden) describes the "five-tiered approach to digital transformation" and outlines the expansion of digital infrastructure in laboratories in five steps. The process starts with sensors that record data, entails the management of data with organizational structure in databases, and ends with graphics that make the data human-interpretable. Lenk and his "SmartLab Systems" research group study how point solutions can become a smart networking laboratory. "For us, the SmartLab, also called the laboratory of the future, is a term that sums up automation, digitalization, and miniaturization," says Lenk. "Our goal is to bridge the gap between biology and technology."
The research group collaborates with other Institutes at the TU Dresden and the University Hospital Dresden to implement solutions that help make smart labs a reality. This includes floating sensors that wirelessly transmit data from within test tubes, or the PetriJet platform, which automates high-throughput screening of multiple cultures in petri dishes.
The platform is used to screen for new antibiotic candidates by way of zone of inhibition test. "The platform can process culture dishes individually, open them, pour and cultivate the contents in a new culture dish. It also takes images of the process flow under different light exposure and from different perspectives and measures the zone of inhibition," explains Lenk. If done manually, the respective series of tests take a long time because it involves working with many different cultures.