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Recent years have seen the emergence of smartphones and tablet computers, providing even greater convenience and connectivity to users. These and other technological developments are offering more opportunities than ever to the already wide-reaching field of chromatography software.
Recent years have seen the emergence of smartphones and tablet computers, providing even greater convenience and connectivity to users. These and other technological developments are offering more opportunities than ever to the already wide-reaching field of chromatography software. We spoke to Mark Harnois, director of informatics product management at Waters Corporation, about where he sees the industry progressing.
Q: What trends do you see emerging in software? How has software been evolving?
Harnois: There is certainly a push towards greater convenience and connectivity through the use of mobile devices and touch enabled tablets but there is also a regulatory compliance driver that seeks to manage the security and data integrity that must be balanced. Historically the balance between data integrity and user access has been managed through the CDS user interface and at the operating system software but the recent emergence of mobile devices and touch enabled tablets means that more reliance is placed on a web interface to provide the user with information and maintaining regulatory compliance safeguards regardless of the mobile device.
Q: What application of software do you see growing the fastest?
Harnois: Applications that make greatest use of a web services interface provide device independent solutions for simple workflows. For example, resetting a locked user account within the CDS presents an excellent example as the task could be easily executed from a mobile device and is readily adaptable to the larger sized icons required by touch technology of tablets. Another fast growing application area is making using of laboratory analytics, e.g., what is my most heavily used method?
Q: What obstacles stand in the way of software development?
Harnois: As stated previously, maintaining the balance between user data access convenience and regulatory compliance software controls. In addition, it is critical to leverage technology that ensures your solution can be deployed on any mobile device as there are several mobile technology platforms available today, such as Apple's iOS, Google's Android, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7, Nokia's Symbian, RIM's BlackBerry OS and embedded Linux. And probably the biggest challenge is identifying the most appropriate workflows to adapt to mobile devices or touch enabled tablets. Relatively straightforward workflows make sense by leveraging current software technology but would anybody really want to perform peak integration by using their SmartPhone?
Q: What software developments do you expect to see in the future?
Harnois: I think that laboratory analytics will become more common with CDS and laboratory informatics software in general. With the current state of the technology, it is now possible for chromatographers to gain a nearly instantaneous quantitative measure of how effective their separation methods perform for their customers. And in process-based laboratories, analysts can gain real time insight on the status of test batches while using their tablet and Smartphone.