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Open interoperability in both the laboratory and industrial environments

Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Reference Number: TOUK20160504002
Publication Date: 4 May 2016

Summary

An East of England company has successfully demonstrated an open hardware and software translator that lets a less technical person choose and master devices and instruments for their experiments and processes. A really sophisticated heterogeneous network is managed in an intuitive manner. The main advantage is sudden boost in productivity. Research and manufacturing organisations are sought for commercial agreements with technical assistance but also beta testers for technical cooperation.

Description

A UK company has set to give the world “translators” between instruments and devices.
The problem of vendor lock-in is widely familiar in the industry. Perhaps not surprisingly, many scientists need to become programmers these days. To give just a couple of examples:
A plant biologist wants to 3D image growing plants so that instruments can follow the upward tract and reimage the same spot multiple times over days.
Scanning equipment users want to create experiment-specific scans and pipette manipulations as well as using standard commercial software.
A scientist working in an international collaborative laboratory wants to gather multiple analogue data signals lasting nanoseconds at rates of many Hz, each triggered separately.
In all these cases, the hardware is usually not geared for linking up and almost certainly the programming languages for them are different.
Picture 1 shows examples of the hardware component of interoperability. They come with their own processing power. This is useful to avoid any network, latency or security issues. These elements fall into the categories of general purpose, data acquisition, edge processing or multifunction.
The software component or the programming “translator” is termed Script Meta-Language. It is a sophisticated application logic transport protocol. It recognises the function and commands being requested from a device and translates this into any compatible language of the user’s choice, and executes it at the end point.
Although it is easy to use, the software allows for the design of very advanced systems and peripherals with functions that can adapt and change dynamically with time. Picture 2 depicts how the user is able to control every aspect of their set up, whatever form it may take. The Script Meta-Language server provides a user-controlled environment with advanced database and graphics processing, which is controlled and accessed via intuitive web interface. Servers are available in standalone native Linux nodes, virtual servers on most Windows platforms and via cloud-based server instances.
The use cases from above illustrate some of the advantages with open interoperability:
- It is now possible to choose the most suitable device or instrument for each step in an experiment or process;
- A large number of devices can be managed remotely and simultaneously;
- Time savings and boost in productivity;
- Being future-proof. This new system demonstrates an actual use case for future heterogeneous networks or system-of-systems.
The UK company now seeks both beta testers for technical collaboration, but equally end users for commercial agreements with technical assistance. The end users may come from a lab or industrial environment facing issues with interoperability.
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Advantages and Innovations

Although there are many Internet of Things solutions on the market, for energy monitoring, smart cities and so on, they are still quite a way from being open to everyone. The new solution aims at linking highly heterogeneous components, devices and systems with such an ease that the user never gets locked in.
The advantages such a system brings are already diverse with the main driver being productivity boosting. It is so easily scalable that it is difficult to foresee today the new opportunities it will bring.

Stage Of Development

Field tested/evaluated

Requested partner

The UK company now seeks both beta testers for technical cooperation, but equally end users for commercial agreements with technical assistance. The end users may come from a lab or industrial environment facing issues with interoperability. The UK company can provide extensive technical support with implementation and management of the described networks.

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