Now that SLAS 2012 has wrapped up, the question is, amid all of those robotic arms, who truly stood out? We saw some great examples of vendors who were able to draw the crowds, while showcasing some pretty cool technology.
Here’s a list of some great ways to get a scientist’s attention, wonderfully demonstrated by three life science vendors at SLAS 2012.
- Creativity counts. Rather than a bunch of cylinders and valves scattered about with some brochures on a table, Clippard center-staged an Air Guitar, rigged to be played. How does this awesome display work? Through 62 miniature air cylinders, and 58 valves to control those cylinders that can play each string individually or by strumming all six strings at once. “Playing songs that are impossible by the human hand,” says Rob Clippard from Clippard Instrument Laboratory Inc. ,”the controls are as up to date as the idea itself.” The iPad app “Pianist” plays the song, sends it via midi protocol to a translator board, and tells the miniature pneumatic, low wattage Clippard valves to turn on and off at the right times and move the appropriate cylinder with 50 psi of air. Did you get all that? That’s ok – the guitar is cool, the technology and idea are innovative and unique, and you can learn all about what they have to offer once you’ve been hooked. Here’s a video of the Air Guitar in action.
- Product? What Product? Though I have a soft spot in my heart for robotics and laboratory automation, as a recent defector from a Drug Discovery lab, even I can glaze over a bit after the 10th or 11th robotic arm display. But, I loved how Agilent  showcased their nimble technology, by bringing a bit of Vegas to SLAS. The pull to stay at the booth was not only the cheering crowd encircling the game, but the fact that as soon as you step into the booth, you receive a poker chip. An invitation to have some fun, and no need to talk to a rep first? You got me. After hours of wandering the aisles a distraction is highly welcome. Odds that someone will remain in your booth for a bit are good at this point, and I did as soon as that chip hit my hand. Microtiter plates covered with playing cards lined the stacker. Agilent’s Direct Drive Robotic arm swiftly dealt three people their hands of 21, amid cheering scientists waiting their turn. After the game, the robot dealer gave you a microtiter “card” that informed you of your prize. For the sake of some great word of mouth for Agilent, I hope that what happens at SLAS doesn’t stay at SLAS…?
- Tap into competition. Though a large sign announced Artel’s  Pipetting Olympics (grand prize iPad2!), what caught my eye as I strolled past, were scientists super – super – into pipetting. And a line of them waiting their turn. Pipetting? Ok, I knew it must be worth my wait – without even knowing what I was lining up for, I was there with bells on. All of this was to showcase their calibration and volume verification systems, which they did well. Scientists were excited, engaged, and most importantly, listening to the reps explain how the system works and how it can work for them.
We hope to see even more engaging tactics by vendors as they continue reaching out to all aspects of a scientist’s interests. Thanks for a great conference and see you next year!