Archive for July, 2014

The Future of the Medical Device Industry

What the Medical Device Internet of Things (IoT) means to Device Manufacturers and Embedded Vendors

 

Prologue

The key to expansion of the embedded marketplace is predicated on the ability to grow the user base increasing demand. The potential seems clearer if we are able to “follow the money” – that is to understand who is going to make money, who is going to make the necessary investments, and what financial benefits will accrue to the user (purchaser). We then can look at what embedded vendors can do to enhance their position and capture a larger share of the growth.

 

Let’s begin with the medical device marketplace as an example. Currently it addresses a limited user base. The first considerations are that one needs to be sick to use currently available technologies and that patient monitoring devices today are reusable. The best way to expand the marketplace is to develop a self-funding and user beneficial way to address the large population of walking well users. This we will cover in this paper.

 

For those that prefer to read that last pages of a book in order to save time, we can preview who we expect to be the winners (and why). Don’t forget to follow the money.

 

Expected winners:

 

Operating Systems

  • ThreadX
  • Nucleus
  • Commercial Linux

 

IDEs

  • Green Hills
  • LynuxWorks
  • Wind River
  • Microsoft
  • Eclipse users

 

Communication Middleware

  • DDS (Realtime Innovations – RTI)
  • Cisco

 

Modeling:

  • IBM Rational
  • MathWorks
  • PTC (Atego)

 

Big Data Providers:

  • Amazon
  • Yahoo
  • Google
  • IBM
  • Hadoop providers

 

Component providers (enhanced if combined with OSes and modeling):

 

Wireless

  • Clarinox (efficient and comprehensive Bluetooth, WiFi and Zigbee). Already partnered with ThreadX and LynuxWorks

 

Interconnect technologies

USB

  • MCCI – partnered with LynuxWorks

TCP/IP

 

Storage

  • Datalight

 

For example, let’s address how the IoT can expand the medical device marketplace. And why some vendors are in a better position than others. Behind many of our assumptions are the thousands of detailed survey responses from embedded developers. One can see how our data is gathered and analyzed by visiting www.embeddedforecast.com.

 

Overview

 

A significant growth in the medical device marketplace can be realized by expanding the medical device user base from the limited number of patients sick enough to require monitoring to tens of millions of individuals that can benefit from preventative support and ongoing monitoring of treatments (e.g., diabetics, high blood pressure, senior citizens, etc.). This will create a market for millions of new devices, expanded networks, large storage systems and Big Data capabilities.

 

If this seems too ambitious an assumption, one might consider the forecasts by Cisco who is predicting that there will be 50 billion “things” connected to communications networks within six years, up from around 10 billion mobile phones and PCs today. We maintain that one needs to consider how these “things” can be commercially monetized for them to become a reality. Just because they can doesn’t mean that they will.

 

The technology for the new medical device marketplace is already developed and ready to be integrated into the new ecosystem. What remains to be done, and it appears inevitable that it will be done, is to bring the necessary parties into agreement as to the financial incentives for each participant.

 

Insurance Companies, Hospitals/HMO’s and governments (worldwide) need to become willing participants in purchasing and using patient information to determine “best outcomes” based on data from millions of patients undergoing various treatments for the same diagnosis. From these data, insurance companies and hospitals, for example, can reduce costs and provide better care for patients.

 

The upside implications for embedded developers is significant. Profound economic conditions spawn profound opportunities and challenges. As in any economic contest, there will be winners, losers and those that can’t tell the difference. Market uncertainties challenge vendors and OEMs alike to find new niches, competitive advantages and markets that will remain stable while enjoying growth potential.

 

Successful embedded vendors will be those that respond to evidence-based research that define the new marketplace. Those that continue to believe that their products represent the solutions to medical monitoring and patient care will continue to lose money and remain non-competitive. Strangely, more than a couple of vendors believe that the mission critical nature of their products is in alignment with medical device requirements. Nanosecond response times and Common Criteria standards are not necessary for physiological monitoring wherein the highest required frequency response is 100 Hz and patent safety can be guaranteed by fail safe alarm designs. Many RTOS vendors have spent millions of dollars chasing a market that doesn’t exist. Medical device developers are laughing at the audacity of those that try to sell their inappropriate solutions.

 

EMF, believes, based on thousands of developer responses to detailed surveys that vendors that provide integrated solutions to device developers and managers will benefit from the coming growth in product deployments. RTOS vendors, for example, that have integrated wireless protocols (Bluetooth and WiFi) USB and storage capability support into their OS will find a more receptive user base than the large vendors that believe that they can force their solutions on medical device developers.

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Innovative Wireless Applications that will become an Essential part of IoT

 

At the beginning of the auto age, market research indicated that the market for horse-drawn carriages was much larger than for autos. Communications vendors should avoid looking in the rear view mirror of market research and concentrate on where new markets, new opportunities and new competitive communication battlegrounds will appear. We are in an age of unlimited bandwidth and enhanced connectivity – the new marketplace will revolve around those technologies that waste bandwidth to achieve comprehensive connectivity (handhelds to enterprise to Internet access, etc.) – not to those technologies that foster yesterday’s packet switching SS7 infrastructure.

 

Central to these opportunities are wireless protocols that can be effectively and easily integrated into embedded developments.

 

EMF believes that we are in the cusp of a radical change in the world of technology that will have distinct consequences for embedded vendors. Today’s hand held devices have more compute power than large computer systems of a decade or two ago. We have already deployed a network protocol that allows easy scaling among users. Big data has been in place for a long time – remember scanning your grocery card for discounts? Modeling has been around for more than a decade and allows for effective maintenance, and makes easy software and hardware upgrades without losing tested and deployed software apps.

 

There is the uneasy feeling among some that this is all going to come together somehow and we need to be ready for the both the opportunity as well as the threat.

 

Wireless technologies are central to future communications development – and in particular to the Internet of Things (IoT). That said, wireless providers that have evolved innovative applications that help developer and development teams to cost effectively design and deploy wireless-based devices will prosper at expense of those that don’t. In addition, OS vendors that don’t provide an integrated OS-wireless capability will lose market share to those that make it easier for developers to integrate wireless capabilities into the design process.

 

EMF usually doesn’t endorse any product, however the uniqueness of the following Clarinox and Texas Instruments wireless offering deserves a “call out” with the hope that he industry will see more such offerings hat support embedded development.

 

Clarinox Technologies, a leading provider of wireless protocol stack software has risen to the challenge by providing Clarinox™Blue Smart Ready protocol stack on the Texas Instruments (TI) WiLink™ 8 platform for the recently announced SMART kapp digital capture board. Unveiled at InfoComm 2014, SMART kapp allows users to write, draw, diagram and brainstorm using an ink marker, just as they would with a dry-erase board. But with SMART kapp, co-workers and clients can follow the process in real-time, where everything written on the capture board appears as if by magic on their digital devices. The work is simply saved with SMART’s advanced software and then as a final product as PDFs or JPEGs and then easily shared with anyone, anywhere, instantly.

 

For the project ClarinoxBlue is integrated on the WiLink™ 8 Wi-Fi® and Bluetooth combo connectivity solution with SYS-BIOS and TMS320C6748. Additionally, the Clarinox built-in Bluetooth protocol analyzer provides enhanced visibility and faster debugging.