MicroProbe an inspiring visual in science labs

Written by By Tzu-Chi Zhao, CNN

Scientists around the world are analyzing their training by watching a clip of Microsoft’s original MicroProbe computer, which made a brief visit to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington in 2014

The device, a series of thousands of tiny optical sensors that would be linked together and used to crunch data, has an eponymous computer program built into it which enables users to perform statistical tests at the touch of a button.

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum recreated the original MicroProbe computer. Credit: John VanWinkle/Getty Images North America/Getty Images

Scientists previously struggled to follow Microsoft’s program’s instructions as it was highly limited, and could only make statistical queries like measurements, correlations and relationships on a collection of small samples.

But now, for a number of reasons, this has changed — most notably the rapid spread of the Omicron Prompt, which is a portable handheld computer that takes a series of measurements called electrophoresis.

Scientists no longer need to assemble thousands of tiny instruments for every experiment, and it can do the same tasks on a single device. In May this year, scientists integrated the Omicron Prompt into an automated test to test a new polymer semiconductor.

The WIRED Chemistry Department at the National Physical Laboratory in Kew Gardens, UK.

The Omicron Prompt works like a powerful microscope on a crowded street — it has a 4K screen and is easy to operate. In this photo, scientists try to get to grips with a palette. Credit: Images courtesy of WIRED Chemistry Department at National Physical Laboratory, Kew

“Omicron Prompt was developed specifically for analysis of macroscopic datasets,” said Jeremy Banham, technical lead at Omicron Prompt’s University of South Australia business unit. “It can now analyze large datasets from below as well as above ground. Omicron Prompt can also automatically detect errors in those processes — to eliminate them from the analysis. It can measure phenomena within an inch and a half at a distance of a meter.”

At 2 centimeters long, the Omicron Prompt has an ultra-modern user interface. Credit: Daniel Daniele/isabell.noore/cc

This can be particularly useful for analyzing complex data on the ground, in places like large laboratories. This is something that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Railway Museum, NASA, The White House, and the top universities in the US all use it for.

The technology is now being used by the US military for air traffic control and public security. “We look at the big trends that will have an effect on our world and what we can do to keep up to date with those,” said Banham.

“If we consider the potential to revolutionize the efficiency of modern urban transportation, it is easy to grasp why we need technology that can model traffic in real time.”

The National Air and Space Museum has displayed the original MicroProbe computer. Credit: John VanWinkle/Getty Images North America/Getty Images

Banham believes that more apps incorporating the omicron prompt will be released in the near future. “We continue to test new releases and new ways of presenting datasets using it. We also create custom solutions that address both professional and personal needs,” he said.

For example, in its latest release, the platform developed a solution specifically for tattoo artists to make samples of their artwork and validate the final image. This can make way for the traditional labs in factories that need more accurate prototypes to work with, before it can be mass-produced.

“Developers need to design in a way that is capable of integrating with our solution. We can also integrate with other solutions to expand the potential of our platform to deliver new utility to a wider range of researchers,” said Banham.

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