Find our github about recording experiments here .
Stanford News about iLabs:
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is Stanford iLabs and why is it unique?
Stanford iLabs is augmenting online education with online experimentation. Since the vast majority of experiments have a finite number of states, these states can be recorded and the experiment turned into a data set and displayed in a browser. Such an interactive display of an experimental data set is highly scalable and can be distributed to hundreds or thousands of students simultaneously. In combination with existing online learning tools such as video chats, students can collaborate while conducting an iLabs experiment. Laboratory time is not limited by cost or scheduling and after one recording, no further maintenance is required. The experience is interactive and close to conducting an actual experiment, since the students can see the equipment and the details of a laboratory environment. Even noise effects and statistical outcomes are added to provide a realistic laboratory experience. Any computer controlled experiment can be turned into an iLab.
How will an experiment be displayed on the online platform?
The experiment will be displayed in any browser (we recommend Chrome) - it only requires internet connection:
In the browser window, there will be two different types of control: sliders and on/off buttons. These controls can be turned and associated image or video data will be displayed. It is possible to associate multiple images or videos to each control state. The user can interactively conduct an experiment by changing controls and view associated data.
Who can upload experiments to the platform? Who will be able to see the online experiments?
We are currently inviting anyone who will be teaching a course at Stanford during the Coronavirus pandemic in the academic year 2020-2021 to upload experiments onto the platform. If you are from a different institutions, we can evaluate on a case by case basis. If you are interested, please contact us (email@example.com) to discuss this further. All experiments will be publicly available online. Please consider this when deciding to upload an experiment and do not include any data that might be confidential or proprietary.
Can my experiment be turned into an iLab experiment? Can I include sensor readings and data?
The vast majority of experiments can be turned into an iLab experiment. The platform is designed under the assumption that experiments have a finite number of states. This means that your experiment can only be in a finite set of configurations (“states”) that can be reached through a specific setting on your control variables. Thus, if your experiment can be viewed as a list of states, it can be turned into an iLabs experiment. [We are currently not allowing for a state history and state transitions. This would be a feature we would like to add, see (12)]
Yes, you can include any sensor data or other numerical data that you would like to be displayed. With a click of a button, users can see these data points displayed on top of the experiment. The sensor readings can also include noise.
I would like to turn a physical experiment into an iLabs experiment: Can you support me? How much effort will this be? What do I need to do?
We would like to support everyone, who is interested in putting up an experiment. If you are interested in turning one of your physical experiments into an iLab experiment, please reach out to us (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss this further.
In order to turn your experiment into an iLab experiment, you need to create a data file and associated images. If your experiment is run via LabView, Matlab, Python, Octave or Arduino, we can provide you with a software tool kit that helps you to record your experiment. This software helps identifying the states your experiment can be in and walks through them automatically while recording data. In addition to using this toolkit, you would only need to connect a camera that can take image data at each state. If your laboratory only has a handful of states, you can also manually take pictures and record data and we can help you format all required information so that it can be uploaded. You can then upload the data onto our platform in a simple drag and drop menu. We expect the effort required for the recording and upload of an experiment to be relatively low. Depending on the complexity of your experiment, the process might take less than an hour and should not take longer than an afternoon for very complex experiments.
What other features does the platform provide?
The core of the platform is the upload and display of experiments as described before. We have added some other limited functionalities:
Record sensor data and the associated control settings in a lab book
Replay a pre-recorded set of states
Show theory slides about the experiment, including explanations on how to navigate it
[Disclaimer: There are some other functionalities on the platform, which we are currently not endorsing for usage.]
How can I distribute the iLabs version of my experiment?
You can link to your iLab experiment via a simple link. Alternatively, all available experiments will be listed on our platform and can be searched. You can distribute the link to your experiment via Canvas and other learning platforms, email or as part of a homework assignment. You can also create a link to embed your experiment in another website.
What is the current state of the platform? What are the limitations?
The iLabs platform was developed as part of a research effort to further investigate the usage of experiment in online education. The platform we can currently provide is a prototype, which runs well but has the usual limitations of pioneer work. We believe that iLabs can provide educational benefit, even when some additional functionalities we would like to have do not work perfectly. The heart of the platform, the upload and display of experimental data, is well-functioning and can be used. Our prototype runs on Google Servers that can easily be scaled up, if required.
Will I be able to record my experiment despite the current “shelter-in-place” order?
The university leadership has stated in their past communication that remote education is part of the essential business aspect of Stanford University. We therefore believe that doing one recording of a laboratory for a remote class should be permissible.
Is this a commercial website?
No - the iLabs platform was developed out of academic interest and joy at design and programming. It originates in 1996, when the Hesselink research group developed the world’s first remote laboratories. The project has been picked up recently, including through the Creativity in Research program at the d.school. We have re-thought and re- designed the idea. The authors of the platform are happy to share what they can currently provide to aid the academic mission of Stanford in Spring Quarter 2019-2020. We want to do our best to help in a time of crisis.
I want to help develop this platform further and/or know someone who would be interested as well.
Awesome - there are several aspects that we could use some help on. If you have any experience in web design, coding or if you have any other expertise that you think will be useful for us, please reach out to us at email@example.com .
Who are the authors of this platform? Are there publications about this platform?
This work was developed by the Hesselink group under Lambertus Hesselink (Professor, Electrical Engineering and, by courtesy, Applied Physics). Two graduate students (Lars Thorben Neustock & George Herring) as well as two visiting postdoctoral scholars (Luis de la Torre & Felix J. Garcia) have been part of this effort. Significant design on this platform was done with the d.school within the “Creativity in Research Scholars” program.
Please see our publications about this project for more details:
Neustock, Lars Thorben, George K. Herring, and Lambertus Hesselink. "Remote Experimentation with Massively Scalable Online Laboratories." Online Engineering & Internet of Things. Springer, Cham, 2018. 258-265.
De La Torre, Luis, et al. "Automatic Generation and Easy Deployment of Digitized Laboratories." IEEE Transactions on Industrial Informatics (2020).
Herring, George K., Lars Thorben Neustock, and Lambertus Hesselink. "Learning from the unexpected: Statistics and uncertainty in massively scalable online laboratories (MSOL)." 2018 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON). IEEE, 2018.
Neustock, Lars Thorben, George K. Herring, and Lambertus Hesselink. "Immersive peer education: Virtual Interactive Scalable Online Notebooks for Science (VISONS)." 2018 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON). IEEE, 2018.
Can you give more details about the history of iLabs?
Yes - the iLabs platform was first developed at Stanford in the 90s. These were the first remote laboratories in history. In essence, iLabs allowed other people to control real laboratories hosted at Stanford via the internet. They were used in many countries, including the US, Germany and Sweden. After our pioneer work, many others followed and there is now a worldwide remote laboratory community. However, these remote laboratories could never overcome difficulties around scalablility. This is why we invented the new iLabs platform. You can find a video about the old iLabs platform below: