By scientists for scientists: Cultivating an internal Informatics mobile app team

Following this week’s launch of ChemDraw® for iPad® and Chem3D® for iPad, PerkinElmer Informatics’ executive leaders Mike Stapleton, General Manager and Vice President of Growth and Innovation – Environmental Health, and Robin Smith, Vice President of R&D, opened up about the process of developing a mobile scientific software app.

Since the inspiration to create a mobile version of ChemDraw first struck last summer, the development team approached the design of the app with the characteristic entrepreneurial gusto that has inspired innovation since ChemDraw was launched in 1986.

Once it was agreed that the first mobile app would be designed for iPad – mirroring the fact that the first ChemDraw desktop version was developed for the Apple Macintosh platform – one of the first and most pivotal steps in the app’s development was Mike and Robin’s decision to assemble an in-house mobile app team rather than outsourcing the task to an external app developer. To accomplish this, existing internal talent within Informatics was selected and trained on the mechanics of building app software for the iPad iOS.

This approach, Robin explained, allowed for the app team to bring its scientific competency and chemical intelligence to ChemDraw for iPad, resulting in an app built by scientists for scientists.

The ability to build internally by training existing developers on a new system is a practice that is quite new to the informatics industry, Mike added. It allows for innovation by eliminating the mindset of migrating an app from one OS to another, replacing that mindset instead with the freedom to build from the ground up.

One of the coolest and scariest parts of the process, according to Robin, was seeing whether the internal development team would take to the iOS training. When the team rapidly scaled the learning curve of iOS development, it opened the door for the Informatics team to experiment with the platform.

As a result, 12 new patents have been submitted in relation to ChemDraw for iPad and Chem3D for iPad, in which every single developer helped invent. The patents involve mechanics, algorithms and totally new ways of sharing data, Robin said.

The ripple effect of such a well-known brand as ChemDraw moving to mobile is that across the informatics industry, the dynamics of technology has changed, Mike said. Just as desktop software changed paper publishing, mobile apps will fundamentally change the manner and speed that scientists create and share information.

For the Informatics team, it’s motivational to know that the affordability of mobile apps will allow ChemDraw for iPad to impact a thousand-fold the number of current users of its desktop or enterprise software, Mike said.

Applying new technologies and getting the right tools into the hands of scientists and students to further scientific research is in keeping with PerkinElmer’s overall commitment to “Making a Difference” by improving human and environmental health.

Watch this YouTube video to learn more about ChemDraw and Chem3D for iPad.

Check out ChemDraw for iPad and Chem3D for iPad in the App Store.

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