To ensure laboratory processes can be reproduced and analyzed, technicians have to keep meticulous records of everything they do. However, manual records on paper or in electronic lab logs are very time-consuming to produce, are often incomplete and can be erroneous, too. Now researchers at the Fraunhofer IPA have developed a tracking system that uses 3D image processing to automatically record hand movements and intelligently evaluate them. At LABVOLUTION 2017, the team is demonstrating how the system helps save time, free up staff and produce better results.

As any researcher knows, every detail recorded in the write-up of an experiment can be crucial. Besides the most obvious information, such as the names and amounts of the substances used and temperatures, subconscious movements and habits can also influence results. The new tracking system from the Fraunhofer IPA is designed to make life easier for laboratory technicians by helping them keep everything in view. To achieve this, an intelligent 3D camera mounted on an enclosed workbench seamlessly records all hand movements and transmits data live to an information system. There, this data is evaluated using movement recognition algorithms, classified and recorded in a protocol. In this way, the system compiles a precise record of each separate step in the process, thus saving resources and freeing up staff to focus on the actual task in hand. As the tracking system only requires basic software and hardware, it can easily be installed in small laboratories, too.