The BMS Lab possesses mobile lab facilities in addition to its main lab facilities. At times normal lab facilities do not fit the research question or population. Participants might not be able or willing to go to a university or a researcher might want to study in a more naturalistic setting. The Experivan – the BMS Lab’s mobile lab facilities – offers a versatile platform to conduct research on the road. Continue reading to learn more.
Versatile mobile lab space
The Experivan Mobile lab is a converted Mercedes Benz sprinter van with an increased length and height. While the front side (cab) is fairly standard, the back has been modified extensively. The back of the van has been converted to accommodate research of all types in various locations and with differing needs. It can thus serve as not just a storage space for lab equipment but is able to serve as lab space and base of operations while on the road. It has been used at, for example, science festivals, in field research and in experiments with hard to reach groups (e.g. elderly or prison inmates). Employees of the BMS faculty can reserve the Experivan through our normal process. We have special requirements in addition to our requirements for normal equipment usage. Continue reading to learn more.
Equipment and possibilities
The Mobile lab offers the possibility to conduct a wide variety of studies due to its complete equipment, conveniently placed in about 11 m2. Firstly, the van contains equipment for displaying audio and video content, a receiver connected to speakers and television. Secondly, the van has two workspaces in the form of foldable wall-mounted desks which each contain a screen, mouse and keyboard. Thirdly, the Experivan contains a seating area. Lastly, the van is equipped with a set of 4G antennas and can thus serve as a 4G hotspot for researchers. You are not limited to the equipment that is currently in the van! You can also freely bring any additional tools and equipment specifically for your research. The van has been used in this way to host VR and AR research. Therefore, our mobile lab offers the unique opportunity for remotely conducting research. It allows you to reach your target audience without much trouble, while having all necessary tools for successful study in the field.
Frequently, the van is used for usability or user experience studies. Such an example is the research behind the OneHealth Hub website.
PhD candidate Simon Langener and the team used Experivan in the development of the online health platform OneHealth Hub. The aim of their platform is to bring awareness to the topic of zoonosis. Additionally, the platform promotes cooperation between healthcare providers and veterinarians. They conducted a User experience test amongst the Dutch public in the heart of Enschede. While being located in the busy city centre, the mobile lab allowed them to gather the desired number of participants. Still, the van provided for the desired privacy and calmness to conduct the study.
You can read more about their study and the use of the mobile lab in the BMS Lab news article: Testing user experience with the Experivan.
For more such examples of research conducted in the mobile lab, you can watch the video below or refer to BMS Lab news section.
Other experiments with notable media coverage:
- Testing the Dutch CoronaMelder app with hard to reach target groups reported on in an NRC article (Dutch).
- Usability tests of the IsolationCoach app developed by the BMS lab reported on by UToday.
- Studying why the doubters of the COVID-19 vaccine campaign have doubts, reported by Tubantia (Dutch). For more information about this study, you can watch the video below.
Want to make use of the mobile lab?
Researchers and staff at the University of Twente’s BMS faculty can make use of the mobile lab and reserve it using the normal process for reserving facilities and equipment. Our mobile lab can be used for both public events that promote the University of Twente and BMS faculty and research on location. The mobile lab has the following requirements for use:
- Posses the Dutch (or International equivalent) of a B (car) driver’s license for at least 5 years.
- Be a staff member or researcher at the BMS faculty.
- Note: Staff members and researchers at other faculties of the University of Twente can make use of the mobile lab, but will have to contact the BMS lab team. Charges apply.
- Have the appropriate insurance coverage for driving a car. This concerns you as a person (mainly liability). The van itself is insured.
- When taking some more expensive equipment away from campus, you might need to setup additional insurance for the equipment. Inform at the lab to learn more.
- The first day of usage, a BMS lab team member will join for a trial and perhaps part of the research. He/she will do a walk-through and check before and after use of the mobile lab. You will receive a quick tour beforehand as well and the lab team member will watch you drive the van for a short while.
- Note: it is therefore recommended to reserve that mobile lab at least a day before your actual research start so you can prepare yourself and the Experivan mobile lab.
If you have any additional questions or concerns regarding the requirements, then do not hesitate to contact the BMS Lab team!
What is expected of you when you use the mobile lab?
The mobile lab is a high-tech lab on wheels and as such requires more caution and care than a regular rental car or van. Be sure to read the additional policies and instructions provided to you when picking up the van and in addition to pay special attention to the following points:
- That you drive safe, park neatly and secure both the mobile lab and its equipment throughout its use. It’s not a Fiat 500 that you can scoot around town in and leave unlocked at the grocery store. The van cannot be parked in parking garages, but must be securely parked through other means overnight.
- The Experivan mobile lab and its equipment should be recharged and good to go for the next researcher.
- The mobile lab should be filled up with Diesel after you’re done using it. Use the “tank pas” (fuel pass) to get Diesel
- Equipment should be recharged, cleaned and in a usable state.
- That you hand the van in clean. Inside and outside.
- Take it through the car wash if it is used more than one day or has become visibly dirty.
- Remove any and all data related to your study and ensure that equipment and the settings of equipment are restores to their original and usable state.
- Questions? In the reference card inside the mobile lab you can read all needed information.