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$10 solution enables wireless health monitoring

Posted: 27 Mar 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:health monitoring? wireless solution? medical applications?

Researchers at Cambridge Consultants have developed a single-chip solution that allows medical devices to transmit data wirelessly.

The "Vena" platform, which is expected to sell at about $10, is targeted at people with chronic conditions who will be able to monitor their own health accurately, systematically and independently.

Breakthrough solution
U.K.-based Cambridge Consultants said that the single-chip solution is a significant breakthrough in the medical monitoring sector. It suggests the software-based platform can be added to a medical device using hardware with a potential cost of less than $10 at the "appropriate volumes" and that it could be available in medical devices by the end of 2008.

The platform uses low-power wireless network technology to transmit readings to a central monitor located in the home, or to an online health record such as Google Health or Microsoft Health Vault.

The platform embeds both the emerging IEEE 11073 standard, which ensures compatibility of data exchanged between different types of devices, and the emerging Bluetooth Medical Device Profile, optimized for the secure transport of medical data, on to the chip.

The concept has been tested successfully with a pulse oximeter and weighing scales, and the platform will be expanded to include other types of devices including blood pressure monitors. The design is also capable of delivering a complete display, which means that device manufacturers now simply need to add their sensor of choice and the device is wireless-ready.

The Vena platform can be used with multiple devices providing a connection to online records through a monitoring station, home PC or STB. In addition to Bluetooth, the platform incorporates support for other connections, including a full Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) implementation that allows Wi-Fi or Ethernet connections.

Cable connections via a UART or USB can also be added. The platform can even be used to transmit data via a mobile phone for health and fitness applications on the move.

'Next-generation healthcare'
"This first successful demonstration of the platform, combined with its affordability and compatibility, opens up a whole vista of possibilities in the way health is monitored and treated. This platform takes us one step closer to all the possibilities of next-generation healthcare," said Paul Williamson, head of wireless medical at Cambridge Consultants.

Williamson adds the technology can be built into devices at any stage of the design or production process.

The IEEE 11073 Personal Health Data is a framework of standards being developed that addresses transport-independent application and information profiles between personal telehealth devices and monitors/managersfor example a health appliance, STB, cellphone or PCand device profiles such as pulse oximeter, blood pressure monitor, weighing scale and thermometer.

Separately, Cambridge Consultants announced it has appointed Craig Carlson to lead the group's Cambridge, Massachusetts-based acquisitions initiative as part of the company's expansion plans.

Carlson will focus on expanding the company's wireless activities in the U.S as an addition of and convergence with the already well established medical devices activity.

- John Walko
EE Times Europe





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