April 8, 2011  |  Cytobank  |  By  |  2 Comments

How to Justify an iPad in Your Grant

Recently, some folks were asking on the Purdue Cytometry list about cytometry data analysis on the iPad. We’re happy to say that Cytobank does a great job of enabling you to view your cytometry data on the iPad and iPhone. We’ve just rolled out some changes that make it even easier.

Because Cytobank is a web-based application, there’s nothing to install, and you won’t need remote access to another computer. You will of course need an account on Cytobank: register for free at http://www.cytobank.org.

Cytobank on the iPad works best for reading or viewing existing experiments. Once you’ve set up and saved a few Illustrations, Cytobank on the iPad allows you to interact with the Illustrations in all the same ways as on any other computer. You can pull up a saved Illustration, rearrange and pivot your figure, change from histograms to contour plots, choose which patients or markers to display, and apply different statistical tests.

The iPad with Cytobank provides a great alternative to paper printouts for showing your data plots at small group meetings. You can zoom in to see more detail or zoom out to see everything at once. For easy access to one or more Illustrations, you can bookmark experiments or Illustrations in your browser. If you have an iPad 2, you can also load an Illustration by using the camera to scan the QR code printed in the corner of all saved Cytobank Illustrations. (See our recent blog post on QR codes.)

On the iPad, you can use all of Cytobank’s experiment management, searching, and sharing tools. So if you’re showing someone data on your iPad, you can also share the dataset with them, provided they have a Cytobank account. You can look up experiments in your Inbox, add a colleague to a project, invite colleagues to register for Cytobank, and view an experiment that a colleague has just shared with you.

What’s the catch? Well, to start a new analysis, you will need to upload your FCS files to Cytobank from another computer (we’re still waiting on an iPad app to run the cytometer!). If you’re starting a fresh analysis, you will also need to use a desktop or laptop computer to draw gates, as the gating applet does not load on the iPad. Some analysis steps, such as annotating the data, can be done on the iPad but might be faster on a computer with a keyboard and mouse if you have lots of data or did not enter annotations before collecting the data.

We think it’s pretty nifty being able to walk around with an interactive version of your flow data. We can envision this being super useful in lab meetings or at conferences:

“What if you plotted __ vs ___ instead, what would that look like?”
“Can we see that as dot plots vs. forward scatter instead of histograms?”
“Wow, can you share that dataset with me so I can try a new gating algorithm I’m developing?”

How do you use Cytobank on your iPad or iPhone? Send your videos to info@cytobank.org and we’ll include you in a future blog post showing the different ways you’re using Cytobank on the go.