Flexible software architecture for user-interface and machine control in laboratory automation

Ethan B. Arutunian, Deirdre R. Meldrum, Neal A. Friedman, Stephen E. Moody

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


We describe a modular, layered software architecture for automated laboratory instruments. The design consists of a sophisticated user interface, a machine controller and multiple individual hardware subsystems, each interacting through a client-server architecture built entirely on top of open Internet standards. In our implementation, the user-interface components are built as Java(TM) applets that are downloaded from a server integrated into the machine controller. The user-interface client can thereby provide laboratory personnel with a familiar environment for experiment design through a standard World Wide Web browser. Data management and security are seamlessly integrated at the machine-controller layer using QNX®, a real-time operating system. This layer also controls hardware subsystems through a second client-server interface. This architecture has proven flexible and relatively easy to implement and allows users to operate laboratory automation instruments remotely through an Internet connection. The software architecture was implemented and demonstrated on the Acapella, an automated fluid-sample-processing system that is under development at the University of Washington.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)698-705
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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