The emerging Internet of Things (IoT) is a virtually connected network of physical devices. There is an ever growing interest and wide adoption of IoT. Emerging technologies are unleashing the true potential of designing a broad range of high-quality consumer applications. Smart cities, smart buildings, and e-health are among various application domains which are currently benefiting and will continue to benefit from these technologies in the foreseeable future.

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Several startups have emerged in the last few years with the intention of developing the IoT for laboratory use. They believe it can help address the crisis of reproducibility that plagues scientific research. Other companies are going beyond just monitoring lab equipment and offering remote control. In some cases, the IoT can provide immediate feedback to researchers using connected equipment.

Data collection via IoT-enabled smart labs could eliminate human error in research and development. Technological progression and scientific advancement have always gone hand in hand. We are living in an age of constant scientific discovery, born from both the efficiency of scientists in the modern age and the desire to extend our knowledge about the natural world.

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However, the current research environment does not maximize researcher potential. As a result of this, research papers have had to be retracted, and discovery yield has subsequently been affected. Maybe the solution is the implementation of the IoT into the laboratory environment to add a new layer of efficiency to the way research and development are conducted and bring us closer to achieving the smart lab.  

An IoT enabled laboratory will see all devices connected to the cloud or local server, and they can be controlled by the researcher externally and accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. With a number of devices and sensors connected to a central system, scientists will be able to conduct their experiments in a more productive manner, without unnecessary obstructions or error-related complications.

IoT can take many different forms in the laboratory, most commonly in automation. Some vendors propose the best course of action would be automating all laboratory equipment, even down to material containers. However, this can often be an expensive solution only available to successful industrial laboratories.

As science is governed by a stringent set of measures and regulations to ensure that research is accessible and compliant, researchers are increasingly looking for methods to achieve this without investing in new laboratory devices and machinery.

Melody K. Smith

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