Pharmaceutical Technology - November 2018

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Pharmaceutical Technology LABORATORY BEST PRACTICES 2018 9 more than $10 million in venture capital invest- ment. CEO and cofounder Angelo Stracquatanio discussed augmented reality within life sciences with Pharmaceutical Technology. Hardware improvements PharmTech: What made you decide to focus on pharma and biotech applications? Stracquatanio: Our cofounder worked in biophar- maceutical manufacturing, and we realized that mixed reality could solve some key human-level challenges facing life sciences. We had to wait for the hardware to catch up to our software, however. At the end of 2016 and in 2017, we started to see the right types of devices become available, and there has been a dramatic uptick in interest since then. As a technician goes through any process, aug- mented reality can show him or her everything that he needs to do, every step that he needs to work on, and every procedure that he needs to follow, demonstrating details via photo, video, or 3-D content. We can also capture data with ar- tificial intelligence, machine learning, and other methods, so that each scientist or engineer using the system can automatically document current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) require- ments. We can then take those data and verify them, so that we can provide real-time feedback directly to that scientist or engineer as they go through the process. The results can then be rolled up into a reporting database, allowing managers to compare different batch runs against each other, or to see variations in a specific piece of equipment's performance of various aspects of a certain process. PharmTech: Do you standardize on a particular type of hardware or headset? Stracquatanio: We didn't get locked into a spe- cific device, whether Microsoft's HoloLens or Realwear's Realwear HMT. We collaborate with customers to determine the best hardware to use. PharmTech: Are there any ergonomic issues posed by the wearable devices? Stracquatanio: It depends on the device, environ- ment, and use case. HoloLens is best for shorter bursts (i.e., two-hour periods), while the Realwear headset is generally better for all-day use. PharmTech: Have you documented specific time and cost savings from using the technology? Stracquatanio: In areas such as tech transfer, the technology dramatically reduces travel expenses. It also reduces downtime issues (e.g., when a spe- cialized piece of equipment breaks down and the vendor representative cannot come to the site), which can often be addressed within a few hours. Depending on the equipment involved, this can save companies in the tens of millions of dollars per year. For standard operating procedures and assays, we've seen timeframes required for train- ing and documentation reduced by two-thirds. In the typical laboratory, a lot of data entry is often duplicated, and a technician will first write a data point down on paper, then enter it into an Excel spreadsheet and then enter it again to an ELN. Using our system, he or she can now enter it once, directly, into an ELN. PharmTech: So is it safe to say that this technology is now out of the 'gee whiz' phase? Stracquatanio: We're now seeing the return on investment for augmented reality, and companies are already realizing the value of this technology. Reference 1. W. Forrest et al, J Pharm Sci, 106(12), pp 3438-3441 (2017). PT

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