I wonder if anyone has begun to investigate opportunities to manage lab safety questions and reminders using this technology?
Meet your new lab assistant:
One software developer wants to transform Amazon‰??s personal assistant Alexa into a tool for scientists
Imagine working on a multistep reaction that requires you to add reagents in a specific sequence and with precise timing. Standing at the hood, reagents measured and ready to go, you begin the carefully orchestrated procedure, when suddenly your mind draws a blank. Which reagent do you add next?
You could take off your gloves and look up the protocol in your lab notebook, but with each precious second that passes, the reaction is more likely to fail. Then you remember your lab assistant‰??a black cylinder sitting on a shelf across the lab. ‰??Alexa, ask Helix for the protocol for the coupling reaction,‰?? you say. A ring on top of the cylinder glows blue as Alexa rattles off the correct order of addition. Crisis averted.
This is just one scenario in which software developer James Rhodes imagines scientists would benefit from his voice-enabled laboratory assistant called Helix. Rhodes designed Helix as an add-on to Alexa‰??the personal assistant software that‰??s part of Amazon‰??s Echo and Echo Dothardware, which sell for $180 and $50, respectively. At last month‰??s ACS national meeting in San Francisco, Rhodes introduced chemists to Helix and its potential features.
Ralph Stuart, CIH, CCHO
Environmental Safety Manager
Keene State College
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