Qualcomm Life, a subsidiary of Qualcomm, has been one of the more interesting entrants into the "connected" health market. The company has introduced the 2net Platform and Hub, which are designed to link medical devices to service providers via the "cloud."
The 2net is important because an increasing number of medical products are designed to be "connected," or linked to some device or entity beyond the confines of the product itself. The medical device may make an immediate sensing measurement and provide the readings locally, but it may then store the information for subsequent transmission to another device or location for subsequent evaluation. This trend has led to an increasing presence in the medical market by non-traditional companies, including telecommunication companies and component suppliers such as Qualcomm.
TechInsights (Ottawa, ON, CA) has recently taken a look inside the 2net Hub, a standalone FDA-listed device which serves as a gateway for collection of information from medical sensors. Full details of the teardown are available in TechInsights' report entitled Qualcomm Life 2net Hub.
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Figure 1: Qualcomm Life 2net hub
Introduced in November 2012, the Qualcomm Life 2net Hub is a compact plug-and-play connectivity gateway that enables medical devices to achieve machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity into and out of a home or office. The 2net Hub uses multiple short-range radios to collect data from biometric sensors and medical devices. It then sends that data via a wide area network (WAN) cellular module to the 2net platform's cloud-based data server.
The Hub enables a wide variety of medical sensors to be connected wirelessly, and for the information generated by the medical devices to be transmitted to the cloud. It supports a variety of protocols, including Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy, WiFi, and ANT+. The Hub is compliant with the Continua protocol for medical devices and so communicates with many sensors in a seamless fashion. It then encrypts the medical device data and transmits the information via a built-in 3G cellular link to the Qualcomm data center. Third-party providers can then access the stored information to create a variety of applications and services that will provide insight into the conditions being monitored.
TechInsights recently performed a teardown of this product to provide insight into the device and to identify technology trends and innovations via the examination of the components and relevant suppliers. The fully assembled 2net Hub is shown in Figure 1. It is designed to fit unobtrusively into an environment by plugging into the wall and closely resembles the traditional plug-in power supplies in size. It is 95 × 65 × 30 mm (H × W × D) and weighs approximately 136 grams (4.6 ounces).
Figure 2 shows the disassembled 2net Hub. It shows the primary mechanical elements as well as the two circuit boards (a main board and a power board) that make up the core of the unit. Figure 3 shows one side of the main board along with designation the primary functional subsystems. The teardown reveals a reliance on conventional off-the-shelf components, with the main processor being a 32-Bit ARM 9 Freescale MCIMX283DVM4B with 256 MB of RAM. The system runs the Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" operating system. Connectivity for WiFi and Bluetooth is provided by a Texas Instruments WL1271L single chip package. Cellular communication is provided by a member of the Qualcomm family, the QSC6270 solution that integrates four functions that typically require separate ICs--baseband modem, RF transceiver, power management, and multimedia processor--into a single chip. The high level of integration in the communication subsystems enables the packaging of the functionality of the Hub into a small, yet capable enclosure.
Figure 2. Disassembled Qualcomm Life 2net hub.
By designing, producing, and obtaining regulatory clearance for the 2net Hub, Qualcomm Life is enabling the proliferation of remote monitoring technology that may be utilized for the chronically ill. It is expected that the medical device manufacturers and third-party application developers will leverage the availability of this technology to implement new products for that purpose. The Qualcomm Life 2net Hub is the latest in a series of collector devices that have been introduced over the years. It will be interesting to watch how this will change the world of remote monitoring.
Figure 3. Qualcomm Life 2net hub main board
The full teardown report is available with TechInsights' other device teardown reports at www.techinsights.com and provides a more detailed listing of major components and cost estimates for select components and the final product.
William Betten is vice president of business solutions at Logic PD (www.logicpd.com). Betten has led product development teams for various companies with medical product experience ranging from hearing aids to vital signs monitoring systems. He serves on the editorial advisory board for the Medical Design and Diagnostic Industry magazine, as well as advisory boards for the Pediatric Device Innovation Consortium, St. Thomas University, and Minnesota State University, Mankato.