Neil Oliver talks about the ongoing development in battery technology which has helped to enable important devices to be easily transported and why this has become so crucial in today's medical industry.
Over the past decade, developments in rechargeable lithium ion battery technology have permitted consumer electronic devices to become smaller and lighter whilst running for longer. This same technology has allowed medical devices to become portable, allowing both equipment and patients to roam freely around hospitals. But did you know that a convergence of consumer and medical devices, utilising wireless sensors are poised to reinvent how we view both of these groups of devices.
The reason engineers do not make good surgeons is their tendency to shut things down when they go wrong - something you cannot do with the human body! Portable medical devices are already used extensively by some of us at home, including blood pressure monitors or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) machines to relieve muscular aches and pains. Chances are you’re more likely to be in the ‘senior’ age range if you are buying such machines, but they save a trip to the doctor or hospital.
Portable medical devices cover the application spectrum from wearable wireless products and chronic disease monitors to pulse oximeters. According to IMS Research, current wearable devices are concentrated around a few products mainly in the healthcare and medical, and fitness and wellness application areas.
In these areas, there is a greater use-case for wearable technology, to transmit data such as vital signs, and track user performance. In the case of pulse oximetry, this is a non-invasive method of allowing the monitoring of the saturation of a patient's haemoglobin. A sensor is placed on a thin part of the patient's body, usually a fingertip or earlobe, or in the case of an infant, across a foot.
The right battery
Batteries used in such applications, have to be light and small, with enough capacity to do the job required and come with the right certification for a safety conscious world. They must be able to accurately report their state of charge and be furnished with internal protection devices. Lithium ion batteries are correctly aligned to this requirement which is why Accutronics developed the CC2300 and CC3800 credit card batteries.
Both models have a footprint identical to that of a credit card and they are available in two thicknesses, are approved to IEC and UL standards and can have their case colour, fuel gauge firmware, labelling and packaging customised to suit particular customer requirements.
So next time your doctor mentions ‘terminal malfunction’, don’t panic! He may just be referring to his computer. And when you ask medical staff to shut a window, make sure they don’t think you mean clicking on the ‘x’ at the top right of the computer screen. This is what happens when the worlds of medicine and electronics converge!
Neil Oliver is with Accutronics Ltd, Chesterton, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, UK. For more information, visit http://accutronics.blogspot.co.uk