Project iLab at the MIT has helped in the development of remote laboratories that use real equipments that can be operated and controlled remotely through an experiment interface.
iLab enables real laboratory access through the Internet from anywhere at any time. It can enhance science and engineering education by exposing a student into vast range of experiments which otherwise is not available for the student. ILab can be shared across a University or it can be shared across the globe. The iLab shared architecture (ISA) is a robust, scalable, open-source infrastructure built on web service. It provides a unifying software framework that can support access to a wide variety of online laboratories. Students access these remote laboratories through a simple standard administrative interface. iLab allows more efficient use of the physical laboratory equipment and give students the opportunity to conduct experiments comfortably and conveniently.
iLab has three-tiered Client/broker/server architecture connected by a Web service.
- Lab Server: It is operated by the lab's owner. This server handles the actual operation of the lab hardware.
- Lab Client: It runs on the end user's computer, and it provides the interface run the experiments in the lab.
- Service Broker: It mediates exchanges between the Lab Client and the Lab Server. Service broker provides storage and administrative services. A single service broker can be shared by multiple labs within a single university.
The M.I.T. Microelectronics Device Characterization lab
It enables users to measure the current-voltage characteristics of various microelectronics devices remotely using a web browser.
(Lab Images were taken from ilab.mit.edu)
Why we need iLab:
- More efficient use of the physical laboratory equipments.
- Learning flexibility for the student, a student can carry out experiments from anywhere using an Internet connection. Students can perform the experiments much more quickly and comfortably.
- iLab can be very helpful for distance learning students.
- Students from remote place will also be able to experiment on some devices which otherwise is not available in that place.
- iLab enables sharing to rare and expensive equipments. As equipment is shared, so costs are reduced.
- Worldwide communities of scholars created around labs sharing content.
- Sharing of the knowledge and technology generated through this.
- The experiment configurations can also be restricted so students cannot damage devices.
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