Improving Specimen Labelling and Data Collection in Bio-science Research using Mobile and Web Applications


Researchers in bio-sciences are increasingly harnessing technology to improve processes that were traditionally pegged on pen-and-paper and highly manual. The pen-and-paper approach is used mainly to record and capture data from experiment sites. This method is typically slow and prone to errors. Also, bio-science research activities are often undertaken in remote and distributed locations. Timeliness and quality of data collected are essential. The manual method is slow to collect quality data and relay it in a timely manner. Capturing data manually and relaying it in real time is a daunting task. The data collected has to be associated to respective specimens (objects or plants). In this paper, we seek to improve specimen labelling and data collection guided by the following questions; (1) How can data collection in bio-science research be improved? (2) How can specimen labelling be improved in bio-science research activities? We present WebLog, an application that we prototyped to aid researchers generate specimen labels and collect data from experiment sites. We use the application to convert the object (specimen) identifiers into quick response (QR) codes and use them to label the specimens. Once a specimen label is successfully scanned, the application automatically invokes the data entry form. The collected data is immediately sent to the server in electronic form for analysis.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • [1] Kumar N., In vitro Plant Propagation: A Review, Journal of Forest and Environmental Science, 2011, 27(2), 61–72

  • [2] Espinosa-Leal C. A., Puente-Garza C. A., García-Lara S., In vitro plant tissue culture: means for production of biological active compounds, Planta, 2018, 248(1), 1–18, doi:10.1007/s00425-018-2910-1

  • [3] Jayaraman P. P., Yavari A., Georgakopoulos D., Morshed A., Zaslavsky A., Internet of things platform for smart farming: Experiences and lessons learnt, Sensors, 2016, 16(11), 1–17

  • [4] Duarte M., Baptista A., Pinto G., Exploring the use of Quick Response Codes: accessing videos in the laboratory, TEEM Conference 2015, 2015, 99–103, doi:10.1145/2808580.2808596

  • [5] Georgakopoulos D., Jayaraman P. P., Internet of things: from internet scale sensing to smart services, Computing, 2016, 98(10), 1041–1058, doi:10.1007/s00607-016-0510-0

  • [6] Rouillard J., Contextual QR codes, Proceedings of the 3rd International Multi-Conference on Computing in the Global Information Technology (ICCGI 2008) in Conjunction with ComP2P 2008: The 1st Int. Workshop on Computational P2P Networks: Theory and Practice (Athens, Greece), 2008, 50–55, doi:10.1109/ICCGI.2008.25

  • [7] Colezea M., Musat G., Pop F., Negru C., Dumitrascu A., Mocanu M., CLUeFARM: Integrated web-service platform for smart farms, Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, 2018, 154, 134–154, doi:10.1016/j.compag.2018.08.015

  • [8] Ganesan M., Prashant S., Jhunjhunwala A., A Review on Challenges in Implementing Mobile Phone Based Data Collection in Developing Countries, Journal of Health Informatics in Developing Countries, 2015, 6(1), 366–374, doi:10.1523/ENEURO.0029-14.2015

  • [9] Nandhini S., Performance Evaluation of Embedded Color QR Codes on Logos, 2017 Third International Conference On Science Technology Engineering and Management (Chennai, India), 2017, 1009–1014

  • [10] Wang Y., Sun C., Kuan P., Lu C., Wang H., Secured Graphic QR Code with Infrared Watermark, 2018 IEEE International Conference on Applied System Invention (Chiba), 2018, 690–693, doi:10.1109/ICASI.2018.8394351

  • [11] Lay K., Chen T., Visual QR Codes with Lossless Picture Embedding, 2018 3rd International Conference on Intelligent Green Building and Smart Grid (Yi-Lan, Taiwan), 2018, 1–4, doi:10.1109/IGBSG.2018.8393546

  • [12] Melgar M. E. V., Santander L. M., Channel Capacity Analysis of 2D Barcodes : QR Code and CQR Code-5, 2016 IEEE Colombian Conference on Communications and Computing (Cartagena, Colombia), 2016, 1–5, doi:10.1109/ColComCon.2016.7516376

  • [13] Chu H., Chang C., Lee R., Mitra N. J., Halftone QR codes, ACM Transactions on Graphics, 2013, 32(6), 1–8, doi:10.1145/2508363.2508408

  • [14] Nurwono K. A. H., Kosala R., Color Quick Response Code for Mobile Content Distribution, MoMM2009, 2009, 267–271

  • [15] Pearson J., Robinson S., Jones M., Nanavati A., Rajput N., ACQR: Acoustic Quick Response Codes for Content Sharing on Low End Phones with No Internet Connectivity, Proceedings of the 15th international conference on Human-computer interaction with mobile devices and services - MobileHCI ’13 (Munich, Germany), 2013, 308–317, doi:10.1145/2493190.2493195

  • [16] Asare I. T., Asare D., The Effective Use of Quick Response (QR) Code as a Marketing Tool, International Journal of Education and Social Science, 2015, 2(12), 67–73

  • [17] Cata T., Patel P. S., Sakaguchi T., QR Code: A New Opportunity for Effective Mobile Marketing, Journal of Mobile Technologies, Knowledge and Society, 2013, 2013(2013), 1–7, doi:10.5171/2013

  • [18] Law R., Interactive lectures using quick response codes, Proceedings of the 18th ACM conference on Innovation and technology in computer science education - ITiCSE ’13, 2013, 317, doi:10.1145/2462476.2465576

  • [19] Durak G., Ozkeskin E. E., Ataizi M., QR Codes in Education and Communication, Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 2016, 17(2), 42–58

  • [20] Lerner A., Saxena A., Ouimet K., Turley B., Vance A., Kohno T., Roesner F., Analyzing the Use of Quick Response Codes in the Wild, Proceedings of the 13th Annual International Conference on Mobile Systems, Applications, and Services - MobiSys ’15 (Florence, Italy), 2015, 359–374, doi:10.1145/2742647.2742650

  • [21] Narayanan A. S., QR Codes and Security Solutions, International Journal of Computer Science and Telecommunications, 2012, 3(7), 69–72

  • [22] De P., Dey K., Mankar V., Mukherjea S., An Assessment of QR Code as a User Interface Enabler for Mobile Payment Apps on Smartphones, 7th International Conference on HCI (Guwahati), 2015, 81–84, doi:10.1145/2835966.2835977

  • [23] Barker K. R., Attridge E., Bennett J., Hiserman T., Horne A. S., Moody D., Ramsey E. C., Son I. K., Vaughn P., The implementation of embedded quick response codes into library resources to improve service delivery, Journal of Medical Library Association, 2012, 100(1), 68–71

  • [24] Coleman J., QR Codes: What Are They and Why Should You Care?, Kansas Library Association College and University Libraries Section Proceedings, 2011, 1(1), 16–23

  • [25] Adhatrao K., Gaykar A., Jha R., Honrao V., A Secure Method for Signing in Using Quick Response Codes with Mobile Authentication, International Journal of Student Research in Technology and Management, 2013, 1(1), 1–11

  • [26] Naraine R., Google testing login authentication via QR codes, 2012,, Retrieved[22-03-2019]

  • [27] Bhattacharjee M., Share your Wi-Fi SSID & Password using a QR Code, 2015,, Retrieved[22-03-2019]

  • [28] Xue Y., Tian G., Li R., Jiang H., A new object search and recognition method based on artificial object mark in complex indoor environment, 2010 8th World Congress on Intelligent Control and Automation (Jinan, China), 2010, 6648–6653, doi:10.1109/WCICA.2010.5554161

  • [29] Lorenzi D., Shafiq B., Vaidya J., Nabi G., Chun S., Atluri V., Using QR codes for enhancing the scope of digital government services, Proceedings of the 13th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research - dg.o ’12 (College Park, MD, USA), 2012, 21–29, doi:10.1145/2307729.2307734

  • [30] Liu Y., Yang B., Yang J., Bar Code Recognition in Complex Scenes by Camera Phones, Fourth International Conference on Natural Computation (Jinan, China), 2008, 462–466, doi:10.1109/ICNC.2008.288

  • [31] Tan L., Liu K., Yan X., Wan S., Chen J., Chang C., Visual Secret Sharing Scheme for Color QR Code, 2018 IEEE 3rd International Conference on Image, Vision and Computing (Chongqing, China), 2018, 961–965, doi:10.1109/ICIVC.2018.8492724

  • [32] Wan S., Lu Y., Yan X., Liu L., Visual Secret Sharing Scheme With (k, n) Threshold Based on QR Codes, 2016 12th International Conference on Mobile Ad-Hoc and Sensor Networks (Hefei, China), 2016, 374–379, doi:10.1109/MSN.2016.068

  • [33] Lin P., Chen Y., QR code steganography with secret payload enhancement, 2016 IEEE International Conference on Multimedia & Expo Workshops (Seattle, WA, USA), 2016, 1–5, doi:10.1109/ICMEW.2016.7574744

  • [34] Markman A., Javidi B., Tehranipoor M., Photon-Counting Security Tagging and Verification Using Optically Encoded QR Codes, IEEE Photonics Journal, 2014, 6(1), 1–9, doi:10.1109/JPHOT.2013.2294625

  • [35] Tiwari S., Sahu S., A Novel Approach for the Detection of OMR Sheet Tampering Using Encrypted QR Code, 2014 IEEE International Conference on Computational Intelligence and Computing Research (Coimbatore, India), 2014, 1–5, doi:10.1109/ICCIC.2014.7238430

  • [36] Wlodarczyk K. L., Ardron M., Weston N. J., Hand D. P., Holo-graphic watermarks and steganographic markings for combating the counterfeiting practices of high-value metal products, Journal of Materials Processing Tech., 2019, 264, 328–335, doi:10.1016/j.jmatprotec.2018.09.020

  • [37] Uzun V., QR-code based Hospital Systems for Healthcare in Turkey, 2016 IEEE 40th Annual Computer Software and Applications Conference (Atlanta, GA, USA), 2016, 71–76, doi:10.1109/COMPSAC.2016.173

  • [38] Toh S. R., Goh W., Yeo C. K., Data Exchange via Multiplexed Color QR Codes on Mobile Devices, 2016 Wireless Telecommunications Symposium (London, UK), 2016, 1–6, doi:10.1109/WTS.2016.7482035

  • [39] Lin P., Teng C., Chen Y., Diverse Augmented Reality Exhibitions for Differential Users Based upon Private Quick Response Code, 2015 Asia-Pacific Signal and Information Processing Association Annual Summit and Conference (Hong Kong, China), 2015, 1121–1125, doi:10.1109/APSIPA.2015.7415445

  • [40] Wittman T., Lost in the supermarket: Decoding blurry barcodes, SIAM News, 2004, 37(7), 1–2

  • [41] Mancini F., Gejibo S., Mughal K. A., Valvik R. A. B., Klungsøyr J., Secure mobile data collection systems for low-budget settings, Proceedings - 2012 7th International Conference on Availability, Reliability and Security (ARES 2012), 2012, 196–205, doi:10.1109/ARES.2012.23

  • [42] Mancini F., Mughal K. A., Gejibo S. H., Klungsøyr J., Adding security to mobile data collection, 2011 IEEE 13th International Conference on e-Health Networking, Applications and Services, 2011, 86–89, doi:10.1109/HEALTH.2011.6026793

  • [43] Shrestha P. L., Usability and desirability of OpenXdata – an electronic data capture tool for data collection in health research, MSc thesis, University of Bergen, Norway, 2014

  • [44] Brunette W., Sundt M., Dell N., Chaudhri R., Breit N., Borriello G., Open data kit 2.0: Expanging and Refining Information Services for Developing Regions, Proceedings of the 14th Workshop on Mobile Computing Systems and Applications (Jekyll Island, Georgia, USA), 2013, 10:1–10:6, doi:10.1145/2444776.2444790

  • [45] Hartung C., Anokwa Y., Brunette W., Lerer A., Tseng C., Borriello G., Open Data Kit: Tools to Build Information Services for Developing Regions, Proceedings of the 4th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development (London, United Kingdom), 2010, 18:1–18:12

  • [46] Dayalu R., Wacksman J., Chen M., Loudon M., Lesh N., Adoption and Continued use of Mobile Technology: An Analysis of CommCare Data, Procedia Engineering, 2015, 107, 247–254, doi: 10.1016/j.proeng.2015.06.079

  • [47] Medhi I., Jain M., Tewari A., Bhavsar M., Matheke-Fischer M., Cutrell E., Combating rural child malnutrition through inexpensive mobile phones, Proceedings of the 7th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction: Making Sense Through Design (Copenhagen, Denmark), 2012, 635–644, doi:10.1145/2399016.2399113

  • [48] Aanensen D. M., Huntley D. M., Feil E. J., Al-Own F., Spratt B. G., EpiCollect: Linking smartphones to web applications for epidemiology, ecology and community data collection, PLoS ONE, 2009, 4(9), 1–7, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006968

  • [49] Aanensen D. M., Huntley D. M., Menegazzo M., Powell C. I., Spratt B. G., EpiCollect+: linking smartphones to web applications for complex data collection projects, F1000Research, 2014, 3, 1–15, doi:10.12688/f1000research.4702.1

  • [50] Kim S., Mankoff J., Paulos Eric., Sensr: Evaluating a Flexible Framework for Authoring Mobile Data-Collection Tools for Citizen Science, Proceedings of the 2013 conference on Computer supported cooperative work, 2013, 2(18), 1453–1462, doi:10.1145/2441776.2441940


Journal + Issues

Open Computer Science is an open access, peer-reviewed journal. The journal publishes research results in the following fields: algorithms and complexity theory, artificial intelligence, bioinformatics, networking and security systems,
programming languages, system and software engineering, and theoretical foundations of computer science.