Researchers and scientists are entering a new age of development, yet are still using antiquated methods of data collection. The norm of students and researchers is a simple notebook where one manually inputs their data findings, hypotheses and procedures. Irreproducibility of protocol alone causes 3 billion dollars of losses in the life science and the R&D industry, not to mention the hours of time wasted trying to reproduce and validate data, only to get something different than expected. Over the years, I have worked in laboratories, researching in optics, biotechnology, and electrochemistry. Data redundancy and irreproducible results were definitely a problem in all three cases, and it always boiled down to how we We are developing a platform that aims to patch the gaps in research and data management, and helping groups collaborate with others for reproducibility of their research.
Source on the reproducibility issue: http://www.nature.com/news/1-500-scientists-lift-the-lid-on-reproducibility-1.19970
What it does
Accumulab is an artificially intelligent system made to record coherent and reproducible data in a consolidated dashboard that utilizes next generation speech recognition and adaptive capabilities based on research needs. The lab notebook for the 21st century, Accumulab will extensively utilize Google Cloud's Natural Language Processor API to incorporate voice recognition to record verbal notes instead of handwritten. A real-time Progressive Web Application that will decrease the time spent writing and searching, and increase time spent collaborating with your fellow researchers. The integration of AI into our platform to create a hands-free data collection system automatically sets us apart from the electronic laboratory notebooks currently on the market, all of which rely on manual data entry. We are also taking another step above the competition with the creation of a collaboration platform to connect like-minded researchers together.
For this Hackathon, we have utilized Tokbox's API and a Radix domain to create a seamless multi-phone livestream platform for scientists to use in the laboratory. With this tool, they will be able to record their experimental procedure from multiple angles and provide a much clearer picture as to what they are doing.
How I built it
The plan to build the Accumulab prototype was to use web application frameworks, specifically with MERN stack technologies in addition to other developer services as needed such as Google Natural Language processor. I used Marvel to design the prototype, and later used Platforma's wireframing kit along with Photoshop to create a much more user-friendly interface. These wireframes were then implemented into the iOS prototype via swift. Our React framework was connected to the Tokbox API for our streaming platform. My overall plan for development was as followed:
A) Design & Planning: Add/Remove/Edit User Experience and User Interface -> Wireframe new designs and features -> Render wireframes using Marvel
B) Development: Deploy designs into code -> Using Agile methodologies' software development life cycle -> Using React on front end -> NodeJS and Express on back end -> MongoDB for database -> GitHub and Git for source control management -> Slack and Trello for project management
C) Release: Send latest iteration to the public
D) Feedback: Find bugs -> Conduct end-user surveys
E) Go back to Design & Planning for next iteration
Challenges I ran into
There were two challenges that we ran into over the course of the day. The first main challenge was getting our React framework to communicate with the Tokbox API, which were were able to overcome by consulting the documentation. The other challenge was setting up the firebase temporary domain to host our demo, since none of us have done it before. However, we overcame this issue by also reading the documentation, which Amazon has made very clear and easy to use.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
First and foremost, I am proud that my team appreciated the dream I have for Accumulab, and are willing to put in the time and effort towards development. We were able to quickly divide up our responsibilities and get straight to work. We are all eager to learn, so I have no doubt that we can put out something for the audience to try. In a short span of time, we had all come together and have accomplished solid work as a team.
What I learned
I learned that in a hackathon, it is not always about who can hack away the most in a certain amount of time, but for developing critical skills such as being able to work under pressure, being able to gauge a situation, knowing when to move on, etc. The great thing is that it attracts beginners and pro's alike, and we are all willing to learn from each other.
What's next for Accumulab
Accumulab is extremely feasible compared to other projects. Developing it from a technical standpoint until launch can cost as cheap as $0 because we aren't using technologies out of the ordinary besides the one already extensively used in the developer community. The technologies we are using have been used successfully in applications such as Google Productivity Suite or Instagram or slack. We have all the resources to develop this product because of how open source works, and how many companies provide free services for developers. Github for example provides free repository hosting, Mongolabs for example provides free database hosting, Firebase or GitHub Pages provides free website hosting, etc. The only technical drawbacks to developing Accumulab is not really technical at all: we just need time to develop this application.
The number of potential users for Accumulab is relatively scalable from a few dozen to a few thousand over a period of time. The STEM field is greatly involving, with multiple initiatives put into place to surge research and teaching. As such, the time to aid the STEM initiative is now, as we can see the influx of research work being planned and conducted for years to come. My team and I come from a primarily STEM background, each of us with years of experience in our relevant fields. For me, the problem we are tackling is not only personal, but something I witnessed happen with my colleagues. As such, our drive to improve research is not just a venture or a weekend project, but a personal mission.