Welcome to PSD's October dynamic content. The “Special Focus” is on the subject of technology for medical, healthcare and wellness applications. It is a subject that affects us all and new technologies will make a profound difference for many more people in the near term. In the developed work, most countries have a demographics problem. The average age of citizens in these countries is rising as the baby boomer generation enters retirement, and ageing bodies generally need more treatment and support than younger ones. Fewer younger people are then available to pay the taxes necessary to provide those services. Unless we are to employ a substantial number of new doctors, nurses and support workers, then there is a real danger that health services, some of which are already underfunded, will not be capable of meeting the healthcare demands of the future.
Fortunately, technology is being used as a force multiplier that can allow doctors to see more patients, take away some of the workload by performing mundane and repetitive tasks and even help select patients in the greatest need of treatment. Technology is getting more pervasive in almost every area of healthcare and that growth will only increase in the future, whether it is diagnosing disease, helping provide individualised treatment or even assisting in operations.
One of the areas that is most interesting and will be very visible soon is telemedicine. The Internet of Things (IoT) will transform healthcare. Currently fitness bands and smart watches are available to monitor the functions of the body and upload the results to the cloud to help users monitor their vital signs. These current devices use just a fraction of the potential of the IoT. In the future they will be able to monitor many more bodily functions more accurately and the captured data will be used to provide a much greater number of services. They could allow your doctor to easily see your current health status and compare with past results. Alarms could be set if, for example, the user’s blood pressure or heart rate deviate from normal. Over the longer term, the doctor could even call you for an appointment before you even realise there is a problem. Catching health problems earlier will lead to less invasive treatment, more successful outcomes and shorter rehabilitation times for almost all patients.
Mark Patrick from Mouser will look at the ways of measuring heart rate and new products that will perform those measurements quickly and accurately, while using less power to ensure the next generation of smart watches and fitness bands unlock more of the potential benefits of the IoT.
As well as the special report, we also feature a variety of general articles of interest to power engineers. This month, we will look at everything from new power standards to designing new products. I hope you enjoy!
European Editor, PSD