Electronics technologies have become indispensable in medicine and the healthcare sector. From diagnostics to treatment and prevention, medical-electronics solutions are used everywhere. At electronica 2014, which takes place at the Messe München trade-fair center from November 11–14, several exhibitors will present new technologies and products in the medical-electronics sector. Their exhibits will focus on the ongoing miniaturization, increased efficiency and increased networking of components that make it easier to recognize diseases early and cure them.
According to statistics from the German Medical Technology Association (BVMed) in Berlin, Germany's industrial sector sold medical technology worth some EUR 22.9 billion in 2013. That makes the German market the third largest in the world, after the United States and Japan. Overall sales have seen continuous increases for years. With export rates between 60 and 65 percent, German medical-technology companies are well represented on the global market, which has been valued at some EUR 220 billion for 2012.
Medical technology a growth market
The medical-technology sector will remain a growth market in the future because of three long-term trends: Demographic development toward higher life expectancy is increasing the need for medical care. The concept of health is oriented more strongly toward the quality of life, which is increasing demand for additional products and services. And technical advances are making it possible to treat medical conditions that were untreatable before. And medical electronics play a special role in that development.
Whether it comes to implants, endoscopes or probes: Systems and components in medical technology are getting smaller. Minimally invasive procedures are being conducted more frequently than ever that would have taken a major toll on patients just a few years ago. Implants including batteries continue to decrease in size at the same time that their performance is improving. Microdul, a Swiss company that specializes in miniaturization, will have cochlear implants for ears on display at electronica. Due to their small size, they are hardly noticeable and are directly connected to the auditory nerve. In addition, Microdul will also have completely implantable pumps on display that can be used for liver sclerosis, certain types of cancer and heart problems.
Compact electronics make portable applications possible
Besides making treatments possible, medical-electronics solutions are also helping to improve the prevention and monitoring of the courses of disease by observing health parameters. That is exactly why Analog Devices developed its ADuCM350 Meter-on-a-Chip, which will be introduced at electronica. The energy-saving module is primarily intended for portable applications in the health sector such as vital-sign monitors that patients can wear as well as for point-of-care diagnostic products in hospitals. The module is characterized by the large number of sensors that it has.
Internet of Things strengthens preventative medicine
While miniaturization is helping to make portable applications possible, networking various devices is simplifying the collection and evaluation of data. Freescale Semiconductors is focusing on development with its IoT Gateway "One Box", a platform for the Internet of Things that can also incorporate medical equipment and applications. It would make it possible for healthcare providers to recognize complications early and respond accordingly. Freescale will demonstrate the entire range of its functions at electronica 2014.