Mobile R&D: The on-the-go lab

9th Apr 2014

Relentless business pressures are forcing some interesting changes to the way research and development (R&D) focused organizations are working and the informatics they use. Mobile technologies rank top of the list with the promise of on-the-go data and applications. Getting companies working more with mobile solutions is the next step in moving the paperless laboratory to the mobile-augmented laboratory.

Using cloud and mobile technologies, researchers can capture a piece of information and upload it to data systems automatically, without the rigmarole of writing it down at the instrument, carrying the paper around, getting to a PC and then entering the data. Tablets and mobile apps also allow managers to review and approve work from the lab on the move.

With progress, however, comes new hurdles. Indeed a recent report by Ovum underlines exactly this: that new technologies such as cloud and mobility will help the pharma industry, but also present unique new challenges.

Security is a critical concern and the policy of how, what and where data can be consumed needs to be addressed and properly managed. This isn’t just a requirement for mobile, but also the changing face of collaboration between organizations. Data needs to be properly categorized so it can be shared easily and securely, without undermining corporate IP.

Another aspect is the eventual emergence of lots of Apps that will do specific tasks and elements of a workflow. These will need to be strung together on a coherent platform, and they will need to store the data in a way which ensures it is consumable by other Apps in the workflow. This is the foundation of a true mobile lab, since the data is what drives R&D organizations’ decisions.

The good news is that mobile science is set to deliver great promise. The market is looking more towards specific Apps for note taking or interacting with simple instruments rather than having access to a whole feature-rich application on a mobile device. Taking this pragmatic route avoids cramming desktop tools onto devices which aren’t ergonomically or functionally able to cope. Importantly, it ensures scientists and researchers can benefit from the increased efficiencies and data sharing which wearable technology and mobile working can offer.