In the age of digitalization and Industry 4.0, scientific labs are also busily gearing up for the future. Laboratory 4.0 promises robotic systems and automation, full digitalization, a flexible, modular work environment, smart materials and functional surfaces. Everything is possible, but who needs exactly what? Decisions relative to automation and robotic systems, laboratory setups and laboratory IT deserve careful consideration. LABVOLUTION, which forms part of the life sciences event BIOTECHNICA (next to be staged from 16 to 18 May 2017 in Hannover, Germany) provides the perfect opportunity to do just that. LABVOLUTION is Europe’s dedicated trade show for innovative laboratory equipment and the optimization of laboratory workflows, and its “smartLAB” display is a major highlight of the event. Focusing on the intelligent laboratory of the future, smartLAB shows how next-generation laboratories will be able to think and communicate.