You can tell Alexa to do a variety of tasks: text a friend, play a song, or start a timer. But if a scientist were to tell Alexa to calibrate a machine, get the status of a test tube or start an experiment, she would not know what to do.
That’s why Matt Hann and Fred Bost founded RTP-based LabVoice, a hands-free voice assistant tailored specifically to meet the needs of scientists in a laboratory. LabVoice will be one of the startups presenting at CED’s Venture Connect summit (March 23-25).
Hann and Bost both have decades of experience in the scientific software industry. Hann founded SciTegic, which built one of the most popular data pipelining tools, Pipeline Pilot. Bost founded HEOS, the first cloud-based collaborative platform for drug discovery.
Launched in November 2019, LabVoice is more than “the Alexa of the lab.” It is process-aware and can adapt to any deviations that might occur, such as telling users what to do if there is a spill or if one of the instruments is not calibrated properly. LabVoice also can execute tasks such as recording observations during an experiment or accessing other software while the user is away from their keyboard.
“We know that scientists want to be safe, efficient and—most of all—focus on the science,” Bost said. “Through LabVoice, we’re able to give scientists a hands-free laboratory experience by bringing them the first voice assistant tailored specifically to them. We’re working to voice-enable the lab of the future today.”
The bulk of their customers so far are biotech or pharmaceutical companies—such as Durham-based biotech company Metabolon—because that is where the team’s network primarily lies, said Steve McCoy, LabVoice’s Head of Sales.
However, McCoy said every time they gain a new customer, they gain new ideas on where LabVoice could be useful such as for lab operations or equipment maintenance. They are constantly seeing new use cases where LabVoice has benefitted companies in industries like agtech, marine biology, oil and gas, and chemicals.
“We had an inclination LabVoice would be industry-agnostic,” McCoy said, “and it’s part of why we chose RTP and North Carolina as our headquarters.”
LabVoice is about to start a seed round, and McCoy said the CED Venture Connect Summit will help them gain exposure to potential investors and customers.
“Our focus is to make the product as user-friendly as possible,” McCoy said, “and our goals for 2021 are centered around expanding to new customers while learning from existing users like BMS (Bristol Myers Squibb) and Metabolon.”