[ISN] New wi-fi devices warn doctors of heart attacks

From: InfoSec News (alerts@private)
Date: Fri May 09 2008 - 05:46:48 PDT


By Adam Sherwin
Media Correspondent
The Times
May 7, 2008

The Bluetooth wireless technology that allows people to use a hands-free 
earpiece while making a mobile telephone call could soon alert the 
emergency services when someone has a heart attack, Ofcom predicts.

The communications regulator said that sensors could be implanted into 
people at risk of heart attack or diabetic collapse that would allow 
doctors to monitor them remotely.

If the “in-body network” recorded that the person had suddenly 
collapsed, it would send an alert, via a nearby base station at their 
home, to a surgery or hospital.

However, Ofcom also gave warning in its report, Tomorrow’s Wireless 
World, that the impact of such technology on personal privacy would 
require more debate.

The technology, which is being tested now in Portsmouth, could also be 
used if a patient failed to take his or her medicines. A pill dispenser 
would send an automatic reminder and, if the pills were not taken within 
a certain time, an alarm would sound and a message would be sent to the 
patient’s family or carers.

However, health experts say that they are sceptical about the level of 
take-up of “in-body” sensors while research into the possible radiation 
impact of wi-fi networks is going on.

The Ofcom report also said that advances in GPS positioning and 
short-range wireless technologies could “revolutionise the way we 
conduct our journeys and safety levels on the roads”. Intelligent 
transport systems being developed by car manufacturers allowed cars to 
communicate with each other and send alerts about sudden braking. If a 
collision happened the car’s system could automatically call the 
emergency services. The technology could also apply the brakes 
automatically if it was determined that two cars were getting too close 
to each other.

Paramedics attending the scene of an accident would carry a small 
computer that would pick up wireless messages from a bracelet 
incorporated in the driver’s watch. These would enable them to gain 
access to information about his or her medical history.

The European Commission is discussing whether to allow the “e-Call” 
automatic emergency call-out, which could be on the market by 2011. A 
recent trial suggested that the technology could cut ten minutes off the 
time for the emergency services to reach the scene of an accident and a 
15 per cent reduction in fatalities.

Ofcom said that drivers could be helped by further advances in sat-nav 
technology. Signals would alert drivers to congestion ahead and then 
calculate whether their proposed journey would be quicker by train.

Wireless communication technology could also enable food items to carry 
microchips containing information on their contents. This would allow, 
for example, nut allergy sufferers to be alerted if they inadvertently 
picked up an item containing nuts.

Ofcom concluded that wireless communication was now “integral to our 
lives”. It said that the Government must decide how to prepare for 
future demands on the radio frequencies, or spectrums, that wireless 
services use. Wireless congestion, with wi-fi users “piggybacking” on 
other people’s connections, must not result in interference in 
potentially life-saving communications, it added.

Peter Ingram, Ofcom’s chief technology officer, said: “This report 
demonstrates the many creative ways that the radio spectrum can be used 
for the benefit of citizens. But other bodies will have to decide 
whether the transfer of personal data, which these advances involve in 
the medical sphere, is appropriate for the benefits.”

Why Bluetooth?

Named after King Harald Bluetooth of Denmark and Norway, who unified 
warring tribes in the 3rd century. Bluetooth was likewise intended to 
unify different technologies

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