Bluetooth the Wireless Ecosystem for Health Fitness and Assisted Living

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Bluetooth is already the de facto wireless standard for health and fitness devices. Whether that’s a defibrillator, a weight scale, a heart rate belt, a glucose meter or a Wii Fit Balance Board, manufacturers have been enthusiastic in choosing Bluetooth to solve their connectivity issues. Altogether, over 20 million Bluetooth health and fitness devices have been sold, from hundreds of different manufacturers.
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    Bluetooth™ The Wireless Ecosystem for Health,Fitness and Assisted Living. May 2009 Nick Hunn WiFore Consultingnick@wifore.com +44 7768 890 148 This work is licensed under aCreative CommonsLicence. This allows you to copy, distribute and display the contents of this paper, withthe exception of the images, or make derivative works as long as the srcinal author is credited.BLUETOOTH is a trademark owned by Bluetooth SIG, Inc., U.S.A. and licensed to WiFore Consultancy Ltd.Bluetooth - The Wireless Ecosystem for Health, Fitness and Assisted Living Page 1  Executive Summary   Bluetooth is already the de facto wireless standard for health and fitness devices.Whether that’s a defibrillator, a weight scale, a heart rate belt, a glucose meter ora Wii Fit Balance Board, manufacturers have been enthusiastic in choosingBluetooth to solve their connectivity issues. Altogether, over 20 million Bluetoothhealth and fitness devices have been sold, from hundreds of differentmanufacturers.That success hasn’t come by chance. Bluetooth [1] offers advantages that otherwireless options, whether standard or proprietary, are not capable of providing.Key amongst these are: ã   Excellent resistance to interference ã   Best in Class Security. ã   Low Power operation ã   A RANDZ license-free regime which gives manufacturers the confidence touse it without being sued. ã   Low Cost. Both as a result of the design of the specification and theeconomy of scale accruing from the production of billions of silicon chipsby multiple vendors. ã   Security of supply from that same range of silicon vendors. ã   Being the short range radio of choice in mobile phones. ã   Support from a community of over 11,000 member companies.Medical devices are still not perfect; they have an Achilles’ heel, which is that themanner in which data is formatted remains proprietary, so similar devices fromdifferent vendors cannot talk to the same application. That is already changing.Bluetooth has worked with the Continua Alliance and the IEEE 11073 PersonalHealth Devices group [2] to bring its Health Device Profile to market. Chosen asthe wireless transport by the Continua Health Alliance [3] , it is a first joint step toremove this proprietary barrier and bring interoperability to the medical market.However, we are only looking at the tip of the healthcare iceberg. The next, vitalstep in this market, which will change its scale by multiple orders of magnitude,will appear as we make health and fitness devices cheaper and connect them tothe web using mobile phones. Today over half of the world’s population owns amobile phone, the majority of which include Bluetooth. The next Bluetoothstandard, known as Bluetooth low energy will enable a new generation of batterypowered health and fitness devices to talk directly to web based applications.Using a gateway technology, every new phone will be able to work with everyInternet ready Bluetooth low energy device. Using the power of the scale andcustomer reach of the mobile networks and handset manufacturers, Bluetoothlow energy has the potential to bring health monitoring to the entire world.It cannot come soon enough. The demographics of the world’s population arechanging. Advances in hygiene and medicine have brought us longer life, butwith it increasing years of ill-health and a growing incidence of long term chronicconditions. The models on which we have built healthcare for the last fewcenturies cannot stand up to these pressures, which drain an ever greater part of our GDP every year.To address these issues we need to harness technology to help people stay well,promoting a healthy, independent lifestyle. Technology may not necessarily curepeople – that may or may not prove to be economic or even possible for thegrowing number of long term chronic conditions that we collect. But it can be Bluetooth - The Wireless Ecosystem for Health, Fitness and Assisted Living Page 2  used to inform and help the population to look after their own health, whetherthat is as an active teenager, parent, or grandparent.Life and health is a continuous spectrum. In our youth, it may involveinformation about the way we play and our social interactions. As we grow andhave children, it’s about staying fit to cope with the pressures of work, mortgageand family. Getting older, more and more of us are contracting long term chronicdiseases and we need to find the best way to manage them as part of oureveryday lives. And as we watch our grandchildren grow up, we need help tomanage our surroundings, to help us live independently with peace of mind forourselves and our families.Bluetooth is key to making this possible because of its capabilities and, mostimportantly, because of its ubiquity. The latest version of the standard cansupport complex medical sensors as well as simple detectors for assisted livingwhich need to run for years on a single battery. By making the connection to theinternet simple, using the established ubiquity of mobile phones and the internet,it will also give developers, whether they are medics, researchers, or enthusiastswithin disease support groups, the opportunity to write software and webapplications that help us to stay healthier.Bluetooth provides the platform for the innovation we need in healthcare. Thereis no other connectivity option that has the scale to let us progress from today’sdeployments of a few thousand users to a global deployment of hundreds of millions. It is the only route to universal, connected healthcare.This report examines the changes in population demographics, explaining thereasons for the problem of funding healthcare in the future. It discusses theensuing requirements for a wireless means of transferring data from health andwellness devices to a remote patient record and explains why Bluetooth is bestsuited for this application.It will need many pieces of the puzzle to be solved to move us from the positionwe are in today to a future of sustainable personal healthcare. The medicalindustry and Bluetooth are working together to solve the connectivity andinteroperability parts of that puzzle. Together they can help make that future areality. Bluetooth - The Wireless Ecosystem for Health, Fitness and Assisted Living Page 3  Background   Bluetooth is one of the most amazing phenomena in the area of wirelessstandards. From its inception just over ten years ago, it has grown to becomethe most widely used short range wireless standard. Each year it is incorporatedin more than one billion products. That number is growing every year, and by2011, there will be more Bluetooth products on our planet than there are people.Although most people think of Bluetooth as either a wireless headset or a way of transferring data between devices (its popularity is so great that the wordBluetooth has entered many languages as both a noun and adjective to describethese uses), it is routinely used in a vast number of less visible applications, fromcredit card readers to defibrillators, agricultural implements to blood pressuremeters. Over 12,000 companies and institutions, including universities, healthproviders and insurers have become members of the Bluetooth Special InterestGroup (SIG), contributing their knowledge and expertise to the standard. Themembership is a Who’s Who of multiple industry sectors.As well as developing the most successful short range wireless standard, theBluetooth SIG has worked with regulatory bodies around the world to open up the2.4GHz frequency band for unlicensed devices. The result is that almost allBluetooth devices can be used without modification in any country in the world, insharp contrast to most other wireless technologies operating in this frequencyband, which need to ship versions customised to suit particular geographic areas.Bluetooth has proven itself to be robust; in terms of performance, reliability,interoperability and also in intellectual property. Whereas other standards leavelicensing risks to each manufacturer, the Bluetooth standard operates a RANDZpolicy, giving manufacturers the confidence to incorporate the technology intotheir products without the need to pay license fees, and virtually free from therisk of being sued for patent infringement. That overall level of confidence hasbeen instrumental in making it the success it is today. With the backing of itsmembers it is moving forward to provide the wireless ecosystem for many moreapplications in the future. Bluetooth - The Wireless Ecosystem for Health, Fitness and Assisted Living Page 4
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