[Documentation]: Humbot - Chatbot for labjournaling


Alex Moellers, Arne Jenssen, Johanna Vielhaben, Marja Kornhuber


Journaling and documenting your lab-work is time consuming, but important. Although there exists digital tools, most of the people we talked to at the Science hackday still use a paper journal. We want to simplify documenting your labwork by creating a chatbot that helps you write the journal. The advantage is that that chatbots are flexible. They can be used from your phone, or computer. You can converse with the journal through typing, or through voice commands, which can be handy when using gloves.

Chatbot Humbot

Our Chatbot Humbot aims to assist scientist in the lab journal documentation. Scientific research in a lab require the use of protocols, time management, data reference, hands on, and reports.

To help you through this tasks and facilitate the documentation as you are working even when your hands are busy Humboldt Chatbot will facilitate your everyday tasks by providing pre-existing DATA (regulatory specifications, datasheets, safety code) SETUP CONDITIONS (sensors, calibration) and GUIDED ASSISTANCE (time manager, step-by-step protocols, proceedings checklist) and DOCUMENTATION tools (storing data, voice/video recorder) among others.

So ideally in your workday you would interact with the Humboldt Brothers and they will not only provide this guidance, but also could intervene from their two perspectives-Wilhelm as the politician keeps you doing what you have to do and bringing scientific facts, while Alexander could guide you to other existing references or suggest paths of exploration.

As a first approach and Case Study for these few hours of hackathon we started to develop a basic Humbot guiding you through protocol for a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).


  • Example labbooks
  • microsoft bot framework
  • BotSociety

What we did

  • Understanding the problem/pain - we analyzed lab journals from some of the team members to understand the requirements.
  • Designing some sample dialogs
  • Architecture sketching
  • Technology review: Finding suitable bot-tools
  • Implementing a chat dialog in Bot Framework
  • Design Logo, and avatars.
  • Sample dialog in BotBociety https://botsociety.io/


  • It would be helpful with timely reminders for certain kind of experiments, but not others. Eg biology experiments has a certain pace that the bot could help you schedule and make reminders (eg to check on calibration)
  • Checklists would be useful to ensure quality and consistency
  • Lab safety advice could be a feature. E.g. the bot could suggest the right kind of protective gloves to use.
  • We need to tune how much the bot should interfere. We don’t want a bot that is too much interrupting. The main role is to be useful and ensure that things are documented.
    -There are some limitation on the microsoft bot-framework that makes it not an ideal candidate for a production version. But nice for prototyping
  • Data sensitivity: several people we talked told that the lab they work for cannot accept “cloud solutions”. We can make software that run on local server. But e.g. speech recognition would be better with a cloud service. So we have to trade off data-security between some features/usability.
  • Tamper proofing is important. By storing the entries in our journal the system is setup so that you can’t go back and change data. However to add even more tamper-proofing we could put the journal in a blockchain. This is future work.
  • We imagine to make a app-store like feature where the community can contribute modules. Those modules would could be tailored to specific lab-procedures. E.g. doing and documenting the Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Storage and backup. The lab data should be stored for minimum 10 years.
  • Features
    – Checklists
    – Wiki-middleware. Index local wikis and highlight keywords in chat-dialog for quick referencing
    – Procedures
    – Calibration
    – State of environment (temperature, humidity, lighting) could be journaled through sensor streams.
    – Project management, delegation and access-rights

Thanks for all the support and input from fellow science hackers.


Further steps

Finish it :slight_smile:

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