May 24, 2011

Richard Raucci

At the recent MeeGo conference in San Francisco, the questions came thick and fast during the Q & A after the “Where Do We Go From Here?” conference closer. This session laid out Intel’s roadmap for the MeeGo platform.

Many of the developers in the room had serious questions about Intel’s plans for competition against Android, and their policies on open hardware and open-source hardware, as did I.

One of the first questions asked was about the main differences between MeeGo and the ever-popular Android platform.

Arjan Van de Ven

Arjan van de Ven, a Senior Engineer at Intel’s Open Source Technology Center, who ran the session, told the developers, “Try making an Android device – all of the paperwork and contracts between multiple hardware vendors, it’s very hard to figure out. With MeeGo, you don’t have to think about that – it just happens. There’s complete access to the Intel hardware reference platform to developers outside of Intel. We don’t even know who’s making this stuff – when the new WeTab tablet came out, we only found out after we read about it in magazines and on websites.”

“As opposed to Android, MeeGo is a business and professional platform, designed to scale across multiple devices. Right now, Android is basically for phones and tablets.”

Personally I found that hard to believe, especially with the upcoming Chromebook, not to mention Google TV.

Another topic was Intel’s position on transparency for software development. A commenter was concerned that Intel could keep whatever part of the OS it wanted to out of the hands of developers.

Van de Ven said, “We had to look at this carefully.  Originally the MeeGo OS was closed, but now it’s open. I prefer not to do it that way again.  The problem we had was that early OS development versions have a tendency to look unfinished. We didn’t want bad screenshots of it appearing in magazines and influencing people’s perceptions of MeeGo.”

This smacks of a near-totalitarian capacity on the part of Intel to control the OS based on faulty assumptions within the company. Keeping software closed and out of the hands of developers for months because you don’t want bad press?  That’s not right.

Van de Ven countered with “Believe me, I want the OS to be open, and we’re taking steps at Intel to make sure it’s open and in the hands of developers.”

He also told developers that Intel had to create an open architecture plan. “This is hard for us to do.  We’re struggling with it. Internally, there’s lots of opposition from inside Intel. But we’re working on it.  Currently, you have to submit an architecture proposal and do the development work yourself. But we’re committed to support that work as it connects to MeeGo.”

Confused yet? This is almost as confusing as how van de Ven described the Android hardware development process.

To try to clarify Intel’s open architecture plans for MeeGo, I met with van de Ven after the presentation and asked a series of hardware-related questions.

Q. It seems as if MeeGo has features of a “closed” hardware platform, like Apple, but with open-source software as its base.  How does that compete with Android, running open-source software on processors from multiple vendors?

A. MeeGo supports other hardware architectures – for example, it can run on AMD.

Q. But Intel won’t develop that support itself?

A. No, we won’t. Inside Intel, they’re still our competitors. But from a MeeGo standpoint, we will support developers for AMD.  And they can build on other developers’ efforts through open-source software and reuse that code.

Q. How does Intel plan to meet the challenge of MeeGo’s rapid-release capabilities, where a product like the WeTab comes to market in five months?  Are there plans to meet this rate of development for your hardware?

A. Intel releases new hardware all the time, with new capabilities and feature sets.  And this goes into the MeeGo reference platform directly, so that developers can access it.

It remains to be seen if Intel can navigate the open-source waters with the MeeGo project. They’ve made a good bit of progress on the open-source software side, but the open-architecture hardware side leaves a lot to be desired.

How open is a hardware platform if developers have to get a proposal approved by Intel to develop it?  Not very.  As long as Intel is the only one making the decisions whether to support an outside hardware project, that’s about as closed as it can get.  And that can strangle innovation, which is one clear way to lose the tablet wars.


Medical Software Availability for Tablet Devices Increases As They Become More Popular

May 14, 2011

Richard Raucci

Imagine you’re a busy medical professional. While walking down the corridor of  the hospital on your way to surgery, you pull up information on patients you plan to see that day, including their full medical histories and up-to-the-minute vital signs. With the swipe of a finger, you bring to your screen updated and centralized procedure and visit records, then you access a patient’s realtime EKG information and dip into the hospital-wide medical database through a VPN connection to your hospital’s Intranet.

Stereotaxis Odyssey

Before you arrive at the operating theater, you quickly review the upcoming procedure through a multi-image interface that shows you 3-D MRI info, surgical camera views, telemetry information, and other clinical lab information as it happens.

Back in your office, you use the same device to review patient charts, including complete histories.  Using a simple interface on the touchscreen, you email patients and hospital staff and update your appointments. When patients arrive for a consultation, you use your it to show them information about their condition, including animation and cutaway views that will allow them to better understand what’s happening to them. After the visit, you can update their records and order prescriptions and referrals with the tap of a finger.

This isn’t the stuff of science fiction any more. The tablet revolution is coming to the medical world, thanks to the fact that medical professionals have adopted iPads and other handheld devices in record numbers. The plethora of BYOD (bring your own devices) and mobile flexibility options in hospitals are leading software and hardware developers to embrace the medical potential of the tablet – and to make this kind of seamless wireless integration happen for real.

In this article, I’ll take a look as several  hardware and software options available today to the medical community, and also look at others that are in development. This report came from the Heart Rhythm Society’s 2011 annual meeting in San Francisco.


GE Healthcare Airstrip

Airstrip is a series of custom Intranet apps that allow medical professionals to access patient data as it happens.  According to Sal LoBianco, Regional Director, “Airstrip is used by major hospitals to access relevant information every day”.

Apps in the AirStrip package include Airstrip OB, for obstetrics information, Airstrip Cardiology, for real-time cardiac data, and Airstrip Patient Monitoring, for patient information, including vital signs and waveform data from medical devices such as ventilators, cardiac monitors, and arterial lines, and also medications, lab reports, and EMR (Electronic Medical Record) data from various sources.

Afstat Afib Educator

Afstat Afib is an iPad app that allows doctors and medical professionals to explain cardiac afibrillation to patients, trough a series of interactive animations, explanatory diagrams, and easy-to-understand information pages.  “This is very effective in explaining exactly what’s happening to a cardiac patient,” says Alison Marcus, a consultant that worked with the AfStat Organization, a healthcare initiative dedicated to educating the public about this cardiac condition, to develop the app.

LifeWatch NiteWatch / TeleViewer

TeleViewer  is a medical report viewer for the iPhone / iPad.  It allows for custom reports to be reviewed  and sorted directly through the device, and also can be configured for instant report delivery from EMR (Electronic Medical Record) services.


Medicomp SAVI

The Medicomp SAVI Wireless cardiac monitoring system consists of an easy-to-wear sensor system that relays cardiac information directly to a BlackBerry smartphone or tablet. The BlackBerry app then processes the information and relays it to the Medicomp Cardiac Monitoring System for evaluation.  The combination of a small telemetry pendant tethered to a wireless device that the patient already carries makes the system more likely to be used on a daily basis.

Windows 7

Stereotaxis Odyssey

 The Stereotaxis Odyssey realtime monitoring / recording system allows for a multiple-window view into medical / surgical procedures as they happen. This includes camera views, telemetry information, and xray / MRI displays. An audio link provides for direct interaction, and the entire procedure can be recorded for training purposes.

The vendor provided a Windows 7 tablet to show the system in action, and it worked well, over a WiFi connection to the Intranet server that processed the data from various medical devices and live feeds from other vendors at the show.


LifeWatch NiteWatch

The LifeWatch NiteWatch sleep monitoring system is also available for Android devices (see the above listing for the iPad version).

Encapture MD

EncaptureMD is a comprehensive  medical reporting platform that covers an array of modalities for creating custom reports.  Information from Echocardiography, Vascular Nuclear Cardiology, Cardiac Catheterization,  Electrophysiology,  and OB/GYN procedures can be combined directly into standards-compliant medical reports, eliminating the need for dictation, and speeding up the review / billing process.  According to the manufacturer, EncaptureMD is currently flash-based, and can run on Android and BlackBerry tablets.  The PDF reports it outputs can also be viewed  on an iPad.

Upcoming Medical Tablet Products

Abiomed, a provider of temporary assist systems that can restore heart functions in cardiac patients, is in development of an iPad monitoring system. “The ubiquity of the iPad in the medical community – everyone has one, and doctors are bring them on rounds – means that we can’t afford to not develop an app for that.  We expect to have one on the market in the next six months,” says Alisha Phipps, a Marketing Specialist with the company.

Medtronic Carelink Mobile is an iPad app in development.  Currently pending FDA approval, CareLink is an interactive patient information system for doctors and other medical professionals.  It allows updated medical records to be viewed in a centralized database.  The portable version will allow physicians to access patient information on the fly.

Hansen Medical’s robotic surgical systems allows for delicate operations to be performed with a high degree of accuracy.  According to Megan Kundert, an executive with the company,  the visual feedback and control systems for the robot interface “will be available for the iPad and other tablet devices in the near future”.

Philips Healthcare’s iPresent is a patient / hospital information system that will allow for instant access to thousands of patient records and hospital administration / billing documents.  Development has stalled, however,  according to Lois Fenimore, a Senior Manager at Philips Healthcare.  “We’re currently developing it in-house, and allocating IT resources to it without a hospital-based pilot project has been difficult.”

TV Links, Good TV Done Right

April 28, 2009

TV Links is a site in the UK that has a nice look and feel to it.  It’s basically an alphabetical list of TV shows that link directly to a viewer for the shows themselves from various sites.  Because it’s in the UK, the site has links for shows that have seldom, or never shown over here.

For example there are links to the Chris Barrie show The Brittas Empire, where he plays Gordon Brittas, the stuffy manager of a British community leisure center.  I haven’t seen that show in years.  I especially remember an episode where Brittas is on trial for murder; it seems that Bolivian and British criminals are using the center to run drug deals “because no one ever goes there”.  Oblivious to what’s going on, he manages to stumble through the carnage, ultimately cutting a man’s head off while trying to reach him to administer first aid.

It’s there, as the first episode of Season Three.  Good stuff.

Other British shows there that play sporadically in America are Mr. Bean, Fawlty Towers, and Father Ted.  Shows that never play here, or may rarely show up on BBC America, include Alan Partridge, The Mighty Boosh, and Bottom.

The site also features cartoons, movies, anime, music videos, and sports shows.  Compared to the fairly chaotic interface of a site like YouTube, this site does it right.

Thrift Shop Haul

April 7, 2007

Yesterdays’ thrift shop haul: 4/6/07

A set of 4 Candela lamps, from Vesselinc. These will be useful for moving around the house at night while I’m up and about. $7.50 from Community Thrift.

Books, from Out Of The Closet:

The Good Housekeeping Cookbook, circa 1944, in fair shape. Interesting recipes based around WWII rationing (Butterless, Eggless, Milkless Cake, lots of soy-based recipes, etc.) $0.50.

P. D. James’ The Lighthouse, a Dalgliesh mystery from 2005. $0.50

String Figures And How To Make Them, a Dover reprint of a 1906 book on Cat’s Cradles From Many Lands. $0.50

Christine, a 1983 book by Stephen King. $0.25