PC cards turn computers into portable laboratories

March 1, 2003

2 Min Read
PC cards turn computers into portable laboratories

Originally Published MPMN March 2003


PC cards turn computers into portable laboratories

QRS Diagnostic has developed PC cards for spirometry, oximetry, cardiography, and the monitoring of blood pressure and other vital signs.

Developed by QRS Diagnostic (Minneapolis; www.qrsdiagnostic.com), PCMCIA cards that contain an integrated sensor can turn off-the-shelf desktop, laptop, and handheld computers into portable medical devices. "In the past, when an OEM wanted to build a spirometer, an oximeter, or other stand-alone medical device, it had to be designed from the ground up, including the user interface," explains chief technology officer Patrick Lichter. "Our cards allow any personal computer to serve as the interface. The only thing the manufacturer has to design is the component that actually collects the data," he adds.

Compatible with computers running Windows 98, 2000, ME, XP, and CE operating systems, the cards are designed to lower total device cost by as much as 50% and open new home-care and telemedicine markets. The components are supplied with software to manage data collection and allow hot swapping to simplify card changes. These features will allow end-users to offer a greater array of specialty diagnostic tests; they enable manufacturers to make readily upgradable and highly mobile devices.

So far, QRS Diagnostic has developed PC cards for spirometry, oximetry, cardiography, and blood pressure and vital signs monitoring. The company commercialized the first of these cards in 1998 under its own name, but will also license the technology for use by other firms. "As part of our OEM program, we supply the cards and a software developers kit," says Lichter. "That way developers can examine the hardware and integrate it into a program of their own design."

Highlighting the popularity of this OEM program, QRS Diagnostic has recently signed agreements with two device firms. As part of one of these agreements, Dolphin Medical Inc. (Hawthorne, CA; www.dolphinmedical.com) will market the Voyager card for real-time pulse oximetry. Compatible with any Compact Flash socket, this card is CE marked for use with Compaq's 3600-, 3700-, and 3800-series iPaq pocket computers. The other agreement, with Advanced Medical Electronics Corp. (Minneapolis; www.ame-corp.com), is aimed at developing wireless LAN- and Internet-connected devices.

Norbert Sparrow, Susan Wallace, and Zachary Turke

Copyright ©2003 Medical Product Manufacturing News

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