We recently returned from our first public exhibition of LabArchives at the Experimental Biology meetings in Anaheim. Because we are still in “Beta”, our objectives in this meeting were to obtain valuable feedback from the scientific community, as well as to sign up some additional testers; by this measure, our exhibit was a resounding success!
It had been nearly 20 years since I have attended a FASEB meeting; the size seemed to have decreased substantially (or perhaps my memory is in question). There were roughly 12,000 scientific attendees, and I recall numbers in excess of 20,000 at one time. Of course, I am sure that this meeting was significantly reduced in size due to the eruption of the volcano in Iceland which greatly disrupted worldwide travel. In fact, we spoke to very few people from outside of the US at this meeting.
In spite of the lower attendance, we were able to speak with (as well as demonstrate LabArchives) to over 50 investigators, virtually all of whom shared the same problem of organization of data in the laboratory. Every one of our visitors still maintain paper notebooks, and all vocalized the problems of retrieving data…especially when someone had left the lab. One individual with whom I spoke discussed looking for the data of a Post-Doc that had left the lab. When their notebook was found, it simply contained a pile of X-Ray films that had been stuck into the notebook. In short, over a year’s work was effectively lost.
This theme, as well as the issue of laboratory staff failing to keep a good notebook, as well as that of collaboration with individuals throughout the world, were frequently repeated. Every person who looked at LabArchives agreed that it would help solve these issues. The critical point, of course, will be to get their teams to implement LabArchives. A number of our visitors have agreed to become Beta-testers of LabArchives, and we are now beginning to see a rapid increase in usage from both small and large laboratories.
In addition to signing up a number of users, we were able to receive some important feedback from visitors to our booth. When we started development of LabArchives as a web-based tool, we designed it in such a way that it would be easily adapted to running in “locally hosted” environment. In visiting with users at FASEB, we quickly learned that the demand for a local version would be almost as strong as for the web-based product. This demand stems both from users that have very large files (our web product limits individual files to 50 MB), as well as from security issues or policies. Based on this feedback, we are expediting our local-hosted development, and are currently seeking a few additional testers for this version. Please contact us if you would be interested in LabArchives installed on your own servers.
In the few weeks since FASEB, we have made a number of significant enhancement to LabArchives, based both on our meetings as well as feedback from our users. If you haven’t had an opportunity, please visit our website at www.labarchives.com, and/or contact us if you would like a demonstration or to become a Beta-tester. We hope to have our commercial release early this summer.