Friday, February 09, 2007

An Rx for Bluetooth and USB

The Continua Health Alliance, an ad hoc group of high tech companies trying to enable networked consumer devices, is gearing up to announce a suite of technical specifications that will include some tweaks for medical devices to at least two mainstream interconnects.

Continua already has members working on a Bluetooth profile for medical devices as part of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. Other members have been meeting on an ad hoc basis for several weeks to consider protocol changes for USB that may be needed for health care applications. The group expects to present its views to the USB Implementers Forum soon.

Separately there's lots of work afoot driven by Continua members and others to expand the IEEE 1073 spec, now called 11073, that defines a wired and wireless communications transport for medical systems. The standard is a cornerstone of the Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise project which seeks to create links among a broad array of medical systems. Vendors including Draeger, GE, Philips and Siemens will demonstrate at a medical conference in New Orleans in late February real-time multi-vendor medical device interoperability using the standard.

Launched last June, Continua expects to reveal by the end of April a comprehensive suite of interfaces it will recommend for networked consumer devices. The group then will write interoperability guidelines for implementing those interfaces in medical systems. The work is expected to be complete before the end of the year.

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