The use of haptic interfaces and web services in crystallography: an application for a 'screen to beam' interface

J Appl Crystallogr. 2016 Nov 11;49(Pt 6):2082-2090. doi: 10.1107/S160057671601431X. eCollection 2016 Dec 1.


Haptic interfaces have become common in consumer electronics. They enable easy interaction and information entry without the use of a mouse or keyboard. The work presented here illustrates the application of a haptic interface to crystallization screening in order to provide a natural means for visualizing and selecting results. By linking this to a cloud-based database and web-based application program interface, the same application shifts the approach from 'point and click' to 'touch and share', where results can be selected, annotated and discussed collaboratively. In the crystallographic application, given a suitable crystallization plate, beamline and robotic end effector, the resulting information can be used to close the loop between screening and X-ray analysis, allowing a direct and efficient 'screen to beam' approach. The application is not limited to the area of crystallization screening; 'touch and share' can be used by any information-rich scientific analysis and geographically distributed collaboration.

Keywords: X-ray data collection; automation; crystal screening; crystallization; haptic interfaces; in situ diffraction.