As executive director of the Continua Health Alliance, Chuck Parker is tasked with helping the nonprofit industry organization achieve its goal of end-to-end plug-and-play connectivity for personal health devices. MED caught up with him to get his thoughts on everything from what progress Continua is making in accomplishing that mission to what wireless technologies are coming to the fore in...
When one thinks of medical devices, mechanical and electrical elements often come to mind, whether as part of a pacemaker or in pure materials products such as stents and catheters. However, the software associated with the medical device is playing an ever-larger role in the development, testing, and certification of medical devices. Reverse engineering (RE) of products is an important tool to...
Measuring electrical phenomena presents a number of challenges for biomedical signal measurement systems. The tiny, microvolt-level electrical pulses that signal a firing neuron or a muscle response are often obscured by high-amplitude noise or accompanied by significant dc potentials. Quite often, the signal of interest is a small, transient pulse that occurs intermittently or only once. In some...
New Digital Radiography (DR) equipment captures DR images using conventional x-ray equipment and procedures. Wireless cassette-size DR detectors can capture digital images and transmit them to a DR system’s capture console. Untethered detectors also enable cordless positioning, which results in greater patient comfort and faster exams. Typical detectors are 14 in. by 17 in. and only .05 in...
Physical security is often overlooked by organizations as they seek to protect their electronic information. There is an old adage that you are only as strong as your weakest link. This applies to the convergence of IT security and physical security. Regardless of how secure your IT data may be to hackers, it is no match for someone who gains access to your servers through a laptop stolen from an...
It is a classic image: a critically ill patient in a hospital bed connected to various medical devices by wires and IV tubing for monitoring and treatment. These devices are attached to the wall beside the bed and wired into the hospital infrastructure. While this is certainly still a real and necessary role for medical devices, the needs have expanded to include many other locations, roles in...
With the introduction of Bluetooth low energy technology, there has been considerable interest in its possibilities in both the media and the market. Bluetooth low energy technology also has important limitations as well as benefits. It is quite different from Classic Bluetooth technology—so different that one carefully needs to consider which technology best fits the application needs...
Mechatronic medical devices are an important historical innovation. Hardware, combined with information-driven software processes, offers increasingly sophisticated functionality, but it also creates important problems with quality. Integration of the engineering work of various hardware, software, and human factors disciplines is a major challenge. Validation and verification testing are...
Editor’s note: This is a two-part article. Part 2 will focus on systemic problems. For many years, the medical device industry has operated without a consistent and internationally recognised regulatory process. In the U.S., companies have needed compliance to FDA guidelines, which some have lambasted for unnecessary delay while others complain about its lack of rigor. Others heartily...
Deciding on the right touch technology can be challenging for even the seasoned technology guru. With over 1200 touch-related patents in existence, it is easy to become confused about which touch technology to choose to integrate into a new product. Whether it is the credit card terminal at the grocery store, the ticket kiosk at the local movie theater or the mobile phone in your pocket, the use...
Measuring stored energy in an electrochemical device, such as a battery, is complex, and state-of-charge (SoC) readings on a fuel gauge provide only a rough estimate. Users often compare battery SoC with the fuel gauge of a vehicle. Calculating fluid in a tank is simple because a liquid is a tangible entity; battery state-of-charge is not. Nor can the energy stored in a battery be quantified...
As baby boomers and Gen Xers reach the age where they more regularly encounter health issues, they’re seeking ways to effectively detect health issues early and treat those conditions with less invasive therapies and procedures that let them recover faster and live longer. To this end, medical equipment companies are turning to advanced electronics to create fantastically innovative and...
The evolution of connected healthcare is starting to accelerate. Even though medical devices and services can take years to go through FDA approval, consumers and individual doctors are moving to adopt new practices based on connected health devices and services. In 2011, we surveyed consumers and industry leaders around the world and found very high levels of readiness to adopt new practices...
Editor's Note: MED recently ran a series on battery topics, with articles focusing on wireless charging, battery fuel gauges, and risk management. This piece on USB battery charging came from our sister site, EE Times. As the USB port becomes increasingly ubiquitous, it is also becoming accepted as a universal charging port. Unfortunately, this concept of universal is easier to...
Recently, the FDA reported that “of the 56,000 medical device reports relating to the use of infusion pumps received by the FDA over a five-year period, approximately 1% (560) were related to deaths, 34% (19,040) to serious injuries, and the remainder to system malfunctions.” As a result, the FDA issued a guidance directed specifically toward infusion pumps. It states that when paired...
In the early 2000s, wireless local area networking became a mainstream technology known as Wi-Fi. Computing devices such as laptops and notebooks began to support the IEEE 802.11b standard, which has a top data rate of 11 Mb/s and operates in the 2.4 GHz frequency band. After 802.11b came 802.11g, which is five times faster, and then 802.11n, which boasts data rates that rival those of wired...
Electronically savvy patients, or “e-patients,” are thought to have better clinical outcomes than patients treated in a clinician-only controlled environment. That is the conclusion of a recent article titled “Exploration of the E-Patient Phenomenon in Nursing Informatics.” Because of this phenomenon, a growing number of patients now view their doctors as advisors,...
Wireless charging may one day replace plugs and wires similar to how Wi-Fi and Bluetooth have modernized personal communication. Wireless charging with inductive coupling uses an electromagnetic field that transfers energy from the transmitter to the receiver, and this technology is a suitable method to charge medical devices. Wireless transfer of power is not new. In 1831, Michael Faraday...
The complexity of medical devices is ever increasing. Medical devices range from simple tools like a stethoscope to gene-sequencing machines and tele-operated surgical devices. As the devices become more and more complex, so does testing and risk assessment. Many are aware that the FDA’s medical device recall database reports a 17% increase from 2009. A medical device recall is the most...
People often think of a battery as an energy-storage device that’s similar to a fuel tank dispensing liquid fuel. For simplicity reasons, this is somewhat accurate. However, measuring stored energy from an electrochemical device is far more complex. The battery fuel gauge is generally poorly understood, particularly in the medical field. While an ordinary fuel gauge measures liquid flow...
A battery is a corrosive device that begins to fade the moment it leaves the assembly line. Its stubborn and unpredictable behaviour has left many users in awkward situations. Battery failure is common and up to 50% of system breakdowns are attributed to a failing battery. Much of this is avoidable, but even with the best of care, some batteries die early and scientists don’t know why....
With circuit miniaturization/integration, lower power processes and architectures, plus great cost savings because of the likes of the iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, etc., the semiconductor solutions contained in handheld commercial product innovations are now able to find their way into medical implantables making the seemingly impossible into a realizable and viable solution in the human body....
A great deal has been written over the past few years bemoaning the lack of dedicated frequency bands for new wireless medical devices. Likewise, with the most recent initiative between the FDA and FCC in exploring the use of a variety of narrowband frequencies for a body area network, there has been great anticipation that a dedicated FCC-approved frequency band may be made available in the near...
Scientists from the University of California-Davis have modified the iPhone to enable its use in microscopy and spectroscopy. The modification, which was the subject of a presentation at the Optical Society of America in October, gives the device clinical-grade performance and could help clinicians diagnose blood-borne diseases. This isn’t the first microscope created using a smartphone,...
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin (UW) are working on technology that could help mobile electronics take a big step forward. They’ve found a way to convert the energy generated by humans as they walk into power for devices like laptops and cell phones.  “Humans, generally speaking, are very powerful energy-producing machines,” Tom Krupenkin, a UW engineering...