1. I plan to start doing fluorescent-based EliSpot assays but want to be able to handle traditional EliSpots as well. Is this possible with one of your machines?
Yes,the new AID iSpot Reader can cope with both type of applications. One mouse click in the software and one single switch in the hardware and you are ready for the future in EliSpot.
2. My lab uses several different plate formats. How complex is the plate-calibration process with your machine?
The calibration of an Elispot plate can be done within one minute. A given brand of plate usually needs to be calibrated only once, then the calibration file can be stored. Use the load calibration function to easily switch between differnt types of plates.
3. How long does it take to read a 96well plate?
With the standard resolution system a plate can be processed within 3 min, including reading the plate, counting and analysing the plate. Processing with a high resolution system may take slightly longer. The AID Reader is still the fastest EliSpot machine on the market.
4. What is the camera resolution in your systems ?
AID EliSpot Readers rely on high-end CCD chips with outstanding signal-to-noise ratios and equally competent optics. We offer machines with different camera resolutions. The standard system which is sufficient for almost all EliSpot applications is equipped with a 656x494 Color CCD chip. For special applications (e.g. two-color EliSpot) you may want to use the AID EliSpot HR System (1392x1040 Color CCD Chip) or even the AID EliSpot HR-XL System (2048x2048 color CCD Chip).
5. Most of the time I'm happy with the standard resolution of the AID camera but sometimes I need a higher resolution. Is this possible with your machine?
Yes, all AID HR-EliSpot Systems have the possibility to adjust the resolution of the camera in the count settings. Higher resolution images- more pixels per image- give a more accurate recognition and calculation of spots, but the image files are larger and image analysis is not as fast (but still fast enough). Lower resolution images are processed faster and take up less space on you hard disk or other media. Please note that the quality of the image is not determined by the resolution alone but also by the amount of "noise" in the picture.
6. How do you control the focus of the camera?
The focus on all AID ELR04 EliSpot Readers is controlled via the software. Older readers carry a focus knob on the lid of the reader. We will upgrade your system on demand. Focusing can be done on any well of the plate.
7. Can the AID Reader System read other types of plate?
The AID EliSpot Reader System is very versatile and can read any type of 96-well plate including low-volume. If you need to read 6, 12, 24 or 48 well plates, we can offer you our ViruSpot Reader with full optical zoom capability, allowing you to read and interpret viral plaque assays as well as transwell assays.
8. Do you do well authentication?
In a closed-box reader, you never know if the reader keeps taking images of the same well or whether it gets all the wells mixed up. You need to go to some length to prove it doesn't. The AID EliSpot Readers are all open in the front so the stage movement can be monitored. Also it is controlled and matched against the master lot.
9. Why don't you include underplate illumination in your readers?
Why don't you read a newspaper on a lightbox? We at AID believe that it is not useful to have an underfloor illumination for a normal Elispot analysis, since the bottoms of the wells are usually covered by a membrane. However, we have the technolgy in hands and equip these machines with underfloor illumination where it's needed (e.g. AID Colony-Counter Robotic Machines for counting of MOs on ager plates).
10. What about stray light? Why isn't your reader a closed box?
Stray light is not an issue. We test this. The new Immunofluorescent EliSpot reader is equipped with a cover to avoid external light. If you are afraid of stray light we can upgrade your normal AID reader with a cover as well. In this case please contact our technical support.
11. Another EliSpot manufacturer has recently released a new software version which allows you to analyse the complete area of a well and not only a restricted area as it was before in their software. Does your software support this feature as well?
Yes, the AID software is able to display the complete area of all wells since the very first version of the software in 1996. If necessary the Area of Interest can be adjusted by the user to exclude unwanted areas or to include the rims of the well. All manipulations can be done for the complete plate or for selected wells only.
12. Do you offer additional software modules which I can buy separately such as a statistics module, a QC module etc.?
No, we at AID believe that we should not charge you for every single software feature. Buying the AID Reader System means buying a complete system with a complete software at once, without any additional costs.
13. Can I insert external data such us cell number, antigen type etc.?
Yes, the layout module of the software version 4.0 allows for inserting various external data. Layouts can be stored for further use and can also be linked to rules generated by the rule compiler.
14. Can the AID reader be used in a routine lab?
The possibility to insert external data and rules for every well makes the AID EliSpot system the machine of choice in any diagnostic lab. To further fulfill your needs we provide several pre-written layouts and VBA-modules.
15. What does the RCA-button mean in your software?
The RCA-button (Read, Count and Analyse) was introduced in the software version 4.0 and is the fastest way to come from your raw data to a final result with just one mouse click. The machine will read the plate according to the camera settings, count the plate according to the count settings and finally analyse the plate according to the flags and rules coming from the layout and the rule compiler. There is no faster way to handle an EliSpot assay.
16. Will your software automatically help me in finding correct count settings?
Yes, since version 4.0 of the AID EliSpot software we have implemented the function "countAID", which helps to find correct count setting in a completely automatic way. However, we suggest to use the manual way, since a machine can never be so good in finding appropriate settings as a human being. The count setting dialog in the AID software is very easy to use, allowing the user to find good count settings within seconds.
17. Can the software exclude unwanted areas in a well and re-analyse this part according to the results in the rest of the well?
No this is not possible. The AID EliSpot software was designed to count an EliSpot plate in the same manner but faster as a human being would do. Therefore the software should not be able to create "black boxes" in your analysis. Of course you can edit/delete smaller artifacts manually.
18. Can you re-count from stored files?
The AID EliSpot Software permits uninterrupted, walk-away counting of an indefinite number of plate files, saving the files to a new destination folder.
19. Can you do multi-parameter analysis?
In the AID EliSpot Software you can assign dedicated settings to each well, so that a plate with more than one cytokine can be interpreted with appropriate settings- in one run, of course.
20. Can the machine do dual color analysis?
We recommend using a high-resolution reader for dual color. Reading two or more color assays is performed through user-defined classes of spots. There is an additional "Two-color"-button in the count settings dialog field to facilitate two-color work. However, we suggest doing two-color assays on a fluorescent-labelled basis. Since spring 2006 AID offers an iSpot Reader, which can do traditional EliSpot and fluorescent-based EliSpots without any hardware manipulations.
21. How can I get help on the software?
The AID software version 4.0 comes with an extensive interactive software help package. Beside the online manual there is a Quick Guide which describes all important functions in detail. The Quick Guide is available in electronic as well as printed form and can be ordered in different languages. To further facilitate your work the software comes with several Top Issues which describes the most important functions in separate files supported by electronic movies. All electronic manuals are working with hyper link technology for easy navigation.
22. How do you handle data export?
We export to text, Excel, database, vbs script and on demand to any laboratory software such us the Laboratory Management Information System (LIMS). In addition there is a very flexible export possibility to the VBA-Excel application EliStat (see point 23)
23. Is there only one limited way to export to Excel?
No, the software gives you the choice to export to MS Excel in either a list format or in a plate format. In addition the user has the choice to select which parameters should be exported and which not. If you need a more specialised export to Excel you can use the EliStat function.
24. I need my EliSpot data in a very special Excel format to do some statistical analysis. Can I do this with your software?
Yes, you can have your Elispot data in any Excel format you like. For this use the EliStat function of the program. Ask us to write you a personal EliStat modul which suits your needs and link it to the AID software with only one mouse click. You can also write the VBA Excel code by yourself. AID will equip the PCs with pre-written EliStat modules which can be used for example in diagnostic labs (e.g. an Tuberculose Module to analyse the T-Spot TB assay) or for some statistical assays.
25. Do you only store images in jpg?
Images are stored in jpg or tiff or bitmap. High-quality jpg images are virtually indistinguishable from tiff. If you need lossless images, we offer tiff with LZW compression. If you want to conserve drive space, use jpg. E.g., if you want to mail a plate file with all the images to a colleague for discussion, they won't thank you for filling up their email inbox with tons of image data. We offer compressed jpg for this.
26. I need to give a talk about my EliSpot results. Does your software help me in this?
AID offers advanced features for presentation of data in talks or print publications including well images with or without comments and headings, graphs, tables, screenshots and more.
27. There is a new guideline in the European community that only CE certificated instruments are allowed to be sold in the EU. My purchasing department has asked me to buy a system with a CE certification. Do the AID machines carry this CE certification label?
Yes, since AID is CE certificated as a company all products from AID carry the CE certification and may therefore be sold and used in the European Community without any problems.
28. Are your systems FDA 21CFR part 11 compliant?
We comply with federal regulation in more than one way. We have tiered user management, audit trail data and more features we will be happy to demonstrate to customers. Two unique features are plate history (a miniature audit trail per plate) and the use of the AID master lot in an automated QC step to insure unbiased reading.
29. Our lab will start a long term clinical trial. Do you offer some kind of Quality Control (QC) for your readers?
All AID EliSpot readers are equipped with a Masterplate and a QC-software module with which you can frequently check the performance of the machine (camera).
product support & warranty
30. Do you offer product support?
We support hundreds of readers on all continents, in some rather remote places, and for a number of years. Do not worry about support.
31. Do you offer product support after warranty?
Of course AID offers service contracts and repair service after the two-year warranty period. Contact our distributor for details.
32. Do you offer on-line product support?
Yes, we offer online-support. Support access will be performed only with customer's permission. We use Citrix GoToAssist remote-support solutions because they have a high level of security architecture: end-to-end Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption. No unencrypted information is ever stored on their or our systems. For details on technology and security issues please visit http://www.gotoassist.com
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