Before founding Clickbio my assumption had for a long time been, bigger is better. Most of us have seen the growth over the past few decades; bigger, better and more expensive equipment becoming more and more popular. Be it large integrations, large LIMS systems, Big Data, big inner-company automation groups; everything seems to be gearing toward capitally intensive systems.
Recently, however, while in a Bay Area Lab, I kicked up a conversation about a low-cost automated platform. Opentrons http://opentrons.com/ came up in our discussions. If I heard correctly, only $3,000 for a 1 channel robot? $4,000 for a 2 arm robot with 1 and 8 channels? Open source software, online configuration, looks to have, perhaps, 15 deck positions. I was impressed.
What does that mean? Swimming in the other direction from the large robot companies can really shake things up. No integrations, no LIMS, no big data, no automation teams.. Every one could in theory have their own little robot. It is cheap. It looks easy.
My coworker and I brought up another major benefit, you no longer need to be running a large application to have tracking and verification for your liquid transfers. Every plate, tip and liquid can be addressed by your own personal robot.
Does it work? Does it work well? Will it catch on? What do you think? I am excited to find out.