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Why medical systems need WiFi

Colin Walls

Colin Walls

Posted May 12, 2009
4 Comments

We have a great many customers who are in the business of making medical equipment and instrumentation. Given the enormous increase in the use of electronics in hospitals and medical facilities, this is not too surprising. Our success in this area has come about naturally – the products just fit the needs of these developers. We have not really promoted ourselves in this space or adapted anything to address their requirements. This has led me to start thinking about what we could do to help make medical instrumentation even better.

This brings me to WiFi – wireless networking. There are certain modern technologies that give me pleasure. They have a common factor: they just work. And WiFi does just that (most of the time). I take my laptop anywhere in my house, or visit friends or customers, and I have connectivity when I need it. If someone visits me, there is no messing with Ethernet or telephone cables, just an exchange of magic codes. So, what’s this got to do with medical applications?

Looking under my desk, what I see is a mass of cables. They have been there, undisturbed, for a while and are, hence, a little dusty. This leads me to make the following links: cables = dust; dust = dirt; dirt = germs; germs = disease. In my house I am unlikely to get much worse than a dust mite allergy (though I had a neighbor who picked up something at home that hospitalized him for a week). And it is in hospitals that great care with hygiene is of paramount importance. I have spent a lot of time in hospitals (fortunately, mostly as a visitor) and I have seen quite a few cables around the place. What a difference WiFi might make. If all the instruments were connected together wirelessly, there would be one less opportunity for germs to lurk. 802.11 stacks are available as an option with most embedded operating systems – Nucleus OS included, of course. A commercial stack should be straightforward to deploy, comply with standards and incorporate the latest security facilities to ensure data privacy.

It looks like technology could really help …

I wrote an article recently that looked at operating systems for embedded medical applications: Choosing the right RTOS: A life or death decision – take a look.

Nucleus Kernel, Medical, Wi-Fi, Wireless

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About Colin Walls Follow on Twitter

Colin WallsI have over twenty-five years experience in the electronics industry, largely dedicated to embedded software. A frequent presenter at conferences and seminars and author of numerous technical articles and two books on embedded software, I am a member of the marketing team of the Mentor Graphics Embedded Systems Division, and am based in the UK. Away from work, I have a wide range of interests including photography and trying to point my two daughters in the right direction in life. Learn more about Colin, including his go-to karaoke song and the best parts of being British: http://go.mentor.com/3_acv Visit The Colin Walls Blog

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Comments 4

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I am looking for some of the reasons above to add WiFi capability to a medical device. Anyone having any information about the regulatory situation here or any experience with this.

Gunnar
11:38 AM Jun 4, 2009

From what I understand, wireless medical devices is a huge growth market, especially for in-home health care. People can monitor blood sugar, blood pressure, weight, etc at home and have the info sent directly from the devices to their doctors. This is expected to save tons of heath care dollars currently spent on re-hospitalizations. Companies like Honeywell have entered this market. Given the political winds, I'll bet we'll see much more.

beth martin
11:00 PM Jun 4, 2009

In addition to the regulatory requirements mandated by FDA and other such agencies, implementing wireless in your design often adds additional network operator compliance requirements. One way to circumvent the additional overhead is to use an off-the-shelf module which has been certified to meet such compliance requirements. Feel free to contact me at syed_gilani@mentor.com if you’d like to learn about some of the module vendors that offer solutions for medical devices or for any additional questions you may have.

Syed Gilani
11:42 PM Jun 5, 2009

hey, spring is cooming! good post there, tnx for www.mentor.com

soma uk
11:07 AM Mar 2, 2010

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