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Smart glasses are aiding remote support among staff and academics at multiple lab sites and home offices in the research of blood cells and diseases including COVID-19.

The Newcastle Flow Cytometry Core Facility at Newcastle University is an advanced technology platform and research lab in the field of Cytometry.

Newcastle’s laboratory relies on a core team of highly skilled individuals whose job it is to maintain and operate the blood cell analytical systems called cytometers that are used to perform blood cell analysis, but also to train other scientists to operate certain platforms.

The systems are not all located in one physical location, and not all members of the team have the same skill sets meaning that it can sometimes be difficult to align personnel with the necessary platform.

In the pandemic, this situation is made even more challenging as its team is working in “bio-bubbles” with one group active on-site and another located at home. Moreover, due to COVID-19, all one-on-one in-person user training and support for this program was due to be suspended unless another method of training and support could be put in place.

Much of the research work that the team performs in the laboratory is hands-on and requires complete freedom of both hands to operate the systems and conduct experiments safely and effectively. However, it has invested in Vuzix Corporation’s Vuzix M400 Smart Glasses to provide remote support and training to the team.

While still enabling a hands-free working environment, the M400 Smart Glasses, which also can be configured with safety glasses, ensured they that they were safe to use in a BioSafety level 2 laboratory.

“[The glasses] have excellent specifications, including noise cancellation for work in environments with high ambient noise levels, image stabilization and zoom functions for close detail work as well as being compatible with several very well-known streaming and remote support platforms,” said Dr. Andrew Filby, director of the Newcastle Flow Cytometry Core.

“Our organisation subscribed to TeamViewer and Zoom, so the fact that the M400 glasses are very open in terms of compatible applications is a real benefit. We have been stung in the past by other Smart Glasses only being compatible with limited streaming platforms, so wanted a more flexible smart glasses option. Control and operation of the M400 glasses is incredibly easy and intuitive, and they are rugged enough to withstand the laboratory environment.”

“Using [the] technology, the team can now operate effectively across its different locations and even ensure expert training and support is available even when the expert is at home or even across the globe. The Vuzix M400 Smart Glasses and its technical features are a vital accessory to continuous lab testing, especially as we move into several projects focused on understanding more about the SARS-CoV2 virus and the disease it causes, COVID-19,” concluded Dr Filby.

Paul Travers, president and CEO of Vuzix, said: “More and more organisations including universities, research labs and healthcare organisations around the world are recognising the value of using Vuzix Smart Glasses to provide remote support and training to their associates or students.”

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