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Imagine being able to predict medical conditions in healthy people and take steps to prevent them before symptoms develop, or having fully autonomous systems monitor critical patients in intensive care units instead of requiring a team of specialists.
Today, many devices and services found in homes, hospitals, the workplace and industry run off electricity. Such machines and equipment can be dangerous if they malfunction, causing explosions, fires or electrocuting users or anyone who comes into contact with them, in addition to damaging property.
Printed electronics is a relatively new technology, but it has already proven a disruptive, yet creative process that allows the production of new products and components, low-cost electronic devices, which open the way to a range of new applications. It has started transforming the electronics industry and many other domains by being included in different manufacturing processes. This new technology led to the creation, in 2011, of IEC Technical Committee (TC) 119: Printed electronics.
New flexible and organic printing technologies are revolutionizing the medical wearable device market and the IEC is establishing the key relevant International Standards.
In our mobile world, portable smart devices keep us connected and able to access information anytime, anywhere. The healthcare industry has also embraced connected technology in the form of medical wearables and portable devices. These offer accurate real-time monitoring, diagnosis and tailored treatment of conditions, such as some types of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Why are home use medical and wellness devices drawing so much attention and growing at an explosive rate? It could be argued that this results from the nexus of the Internet of Things (IoT), the “super-aging” of societies around the world (which is directly tied to patients wanting to be comfortable in their home environments instead of in sterile impersonal clinical environments), the portability of devices, the growth of wearable technologies, the increasing costs of healthcare and the huge regulatory burden/costs of obtaining approval by national regulators. Also, there has been significant growth in the number of standards and regulations that apply to medical devices, especially around software, health informatics, privacy and security issues.
To deal with Active Assisted Living (AAL) issues, the IEC has established a Systems Committee, IEC SyC AAL. This SyC has the role of promoting safety, security, privacy and cross-vendor interoperability in the use of AAL systems and services, and of fostering standardization which boosts their usability and accessibility.
We are more mobile today than ever before and expect to be able to carry out many daily activities outside the home or office. Having embraced the era of information overload, we want access to whatever information we need anytime and anywhere.
Many items we use on a daily basis require battery power, such as tablets, laptops, medical devices, toothbrushes, gaming hardware or power tools. They enable our ever-increasing mobility - batteries power e-bikes, the starter, lights, and ignition systems of electric and fuel powered vehicle engines, and they start the engines or auxiliary power units of planes.
Imagine contact lenses which proactively monitor the blood glucose levels of your tears and transfer that information to a doctor’s mobile device, or an intelligent management system for asthma, lower back issues or a smart health patch which keeps tabs on a patient’s vitals? Some of these devices are being developed, while some are already in use.
Recent years have witnessed a rapidly growing volume of healthcare-related data being collected from a variety of sources that include patients’ records, and information provided through home monitoring or wearable smart devices.
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