As brand-new member of the renowned Pistoia Alliance we were privileged enough to attend the US Conference on 10 October. Our trip turned out to be more than ‘just’ a trip to Boston and was in fact an amazing journey into the Digital Lab of the Future (LotF). A future that is a lot more imminent than many people think and that has the potential to revolutionize health care in general and R&D environments in particular. Already, we are witnessing a major shift from ‘reactive’ to ‘predictive’ labs.
Smartwatches and ‘nanobots’
The fact that the conference was attended by a record number of participants (200 taking part in the general meeting and 50 in the LotF Community of Interest) only seems to confirm the interest in this subject. Labs will increasingly unite three worlds: people (scientists, patients, health professionals), business (including lab automation/LIM systems and analytics) and IoT (Internet of Things). As these elements become more and more interwoven, the outcome becomes increasingly predictive, especially when driven by AI (Artificial Intelligence), Machine Learning and Business Intelligence. Many of us already monitor their heart rate and count their daily steps with a smartwatch. In a few decades we shouldn’t be surprised if so-called nanobots, or mini-robots, are injected into our blood to look for malicious intruders like viruses and transmit the results to a doctor in real-time.
Sooner rather than later, we may rely more on data stored by cloud providers like Amazon, Microsoft Azure and Google than on our own doctor. After all, based on all these big data a prediction can be made as to when someone will become sick even before the actual symptoms emerge. Worries about the protection of these personal data will quite likely be addressed using blockchain technology. This technology, a kind of distributed database, has very sophisticated traceability mechanisms and is already in use to protect cryptocurrencies such as bitcoins against fraud or manipulation. We already look forward to the next conference and will keep you posted in due time.
For those of you who just can’t get enough of the Lab of the Future, please click here for Gartner’s keynote presentation at the Pistoia conference.