How researchers at Yale and Brown are improving accessibility for scientists and improving general lab efficiencies for all
Summary: Two students from top academic institutions had a mission to make the laboratory a more accessible place, and felt that LabVoice would play a major role in that process. Through voice assistants, these students identified a number of use cases that would help researchers with various limitations. As a starting point, they focused on finding samples: a seemingly quick task, but could become quite a time-suck for those with visual impairments. By having LabVoice read the exact sample locations, these researchers were able to save valuable time as they worked in their lab.
Scientists saved time previously spent looking for samples
They’d also know the remaining inventory levels, allowing them to get ahead of any materials shortage
Overall, reduces frustrations for all researchers when combing through cabinets and shelves looking for their inventory
About the Customer: Sara Siwiecki (Biophysics Ph.D. Student, Yale) and Gabriel Monteiro da Silva (Molecular & Cell Biology Ph.D. Student, Brown) were pondering how they could make the lab a more accessible environment for those with various impairments and other disabilities. “We found that by and large, the laboratory was not an incredibly accessible environment, in spite of the benefit that it would provide too many scientists,” Sara says.
After attending a talk by John Conway (20/15 Visioneers) on the promise of new technologies to drive efficiencies and overall improvements for the scientists' experience in the lab, Sara and Gabriel reached out to LabVoice to discuss some ideas that they had.
Status Quo: This was a personal issue, as Sara has a visual impairment, making it difficult to find various laboratory materials (reagents, samples, etc) even when the general location is known. “It can be difficult to find items if I don’t know exactly where they’re stored,” she says. On top of managing her experiments, studies, and classes, Sara would have to spend extra time in the lab to find what she needed, looking through shelves and vials until she found the samples.
Enter LabVoice: That soon changed with LabVoice. By linking her inventory to LabVoice (in this case, their inventory was a simple spreadsheet with names, locations, and amount remaining), Sara could ask LabVoice to “Find my reagents.” In a second, LabVoice would return the exact location of the vial, helping Sara drastically cut down on the amount of time that she spent looking for the vials.
On top of that, LabVoice can update Sara on remaining inventory levels, even if she’s away from the lab. This feature ensures she (and her colleagues) will have access to the inventory she needs rather than finding out later that it has run out.
The benefits aren’t restricted to the visually- impaired, however. Other LabVoice users expressed frustration with the same issue, and have since created similar workflows to improve their experience with inventory management.
And There's More!: Want to see this in action? Check out the accompanying video of Sara using LabVoice.
Sara and Gabriel continue to work with LabVoice to find new workflows and processes that will provide relief to scientists looking for a more accessible lab environment.