In the past few years, many people have discussed using mobile phones as the hub of health care, fitness and health applications to wirelessly connect with related accessories.
Bluetooth low energy has a very good market prospect in this field. ABI Research recently predicted that there will be 467 million Bluetooth low energy healthcare devices in the global market by 2016.
One of the most important reasons for using mobile phones as health care hubs is the interconnection of mobile phones with the wider world. By interacting with a healthy diet website, jogging program or local health department, your mobile phone and connected accessories can deliver and record comprehensive fitness training, weight training and disease management programs, and more.
Frankly speaking, although "classic" Bluetooth is being used in certain health care and health applications, it is generally considered that "classic" Bluetooth power is too high to be suitable for most health care and health equipment. Although some patented technologies may be sufficient as an expedient measure to reduce power consumption in the short term, the patent agreement means that consumers cannot enjoy the broad interoperability brought by Bluetooth. On the contrary, they must sign an agreement in order to enter the composition of authorized equipment suppliers. In a very limited ecosystem.
The promise of Bluetooth low energy is to combine reliable and standardized intercompatibility with wireless devices, which can be maintained for only a few years with a button battery. And Bluetooth low energy has the huge customer base of traditional Bluetooth, which means that Bluetooth low energy can penetrate into the market quickly and widely.
As this technology is entering the market, the industry now needs to concentrate on preparing the infrastructure in place to support this technology.
Bluetooth low energy has a wide range of applications in this industry, and each application has different requirements.
The main advantages of fitness and health care applications, for example, consumers can enjoy fun while maintaining health. These applications may include pedometers or heart rate monitors. Because people's needs for these applications are more specific, maybe you will say that they are somewhat "optional." But these Bluetooth low energy consumer applications are only the first products to enter the market.
People's needs for these products are very different from those for life-assistance applications (which may include indoor motion detectors, alarms, disease management applications) and connected healthcare applications (which may include blood glucose meters, sphygmomanometers, or other more specialized medical equipment) .
When any wireless technology is applied to a medical device, the technology must be regulated by the relevant regulations of the market. These regulations require attention to system risks and mitigation measures that must be taken to ensure patient safety. Managing the risks associated with mobile phones used by users is a major challenge for designers, and therefore attracts market attention.
The widespread use of Bluetooth technology in medical equipment will take some time to achieve, but in the past few years, some Bluetooth low energy products have appeared on the market, including some products released by CSR.
We are now at the stage of finalizing the necessary standards, qualifications, and key infrastructure in order to fully guarantee the good prospects of this technology in the field of health care and fitness.
In the past few years, the Bluetooth SIG has played a major role in defining the direction of Bluetooth low energy applications. The organization is responsible for the definition and standardization of the overall Bluetooth technology, and the more representative companies in the industry have become members of the organization.
In December 2009, this group approved Bluetooth low energy as part of the Bluetooth 4.0 standard. The Bluetooth 4.0 version depicts the core functions of Bluetooth low energy. Members of the Bluetooth Technology Alliance are working to provide Bluetooth 4.0 compatible configuration parameters for health and fitness products.
Among the organizations that cooperate with the Bluetooth Technology Alliance, there is a non-profit alliance called ConTInua Alliance, which was established in 2006 by more than 230 companies, including CSR, Nokia, Intel, Samsung, Novartis, and General Electric Medical Group. They use professional medical and technical expertise to choose the most suitable technology for the healthcare field.
The result of this selection process is a series of rules and a set of certification procedures to ensure that the selected technology enables end-to-end connection of medical devices.
The current ConTInua rules allow developers to start deploying Bluetooth-enabled health sensors, and the first mobile phone certified by ConTInua has been jointly launched by NTTDocomo and Fujitsu **. At the end of 2010, the alliance promulgated the next generation ConTInua alliance rule guide. In 2011, Bluetooth low energy was finally implemented in healthcare products.
The industry needs to see dual-mode chips fully used in mobile phones, or hear confident predictions such as "This will become a reality" so that manufacturers can have the foundation for mass production of single-mode Bluetooth low energy devices . At the same time, we also urgently need cost-effective, low-power single-mode chips to assist related accessory manufacturers.
But the chip is only part of the basic equipment for Bluetooth low energy consumption in health care, fitness and medical applications. The industry also needs a dual-mode software stack combined with a concise API (application programming interface) to allow developers to discover this exciting new technology.
Bluetooth low energy technology has made progress in these areas. During this generation of chips, among the many chip manufacturers that are now committed to supporting Bluetooth version 4.0, CSR has achieved a leading position, which means that many new devices introduced in the future will include dual-mode Bluetooth chips. We can expect that any device that previously included "classic" Bluetooth will have Bluetooth low energy, so there will be many, many products with Bluetooth low energy. Single-mode Bluetooth low energy chips can now also be applied, such as CSR's ÂµEnergy devices.
Of course, the last step in preparing for Bluetooth low energy technology to enter the healthcare and fitness market will be consumer education. Enterprises and the Bluetooth Technology Alliance need to ensure that consumers understand what this technology is and what accessories they can use to collaborate with Bluetooth low energy mobile phones they use.
Bluetooth low energy consumption will be the largest PAN wireless technology revolution after Bluetooth, bringing great convenience to consumers, and also bringing profits to the health care, fitness and health industries. As with all the best technologies, including the previous Bluetooth technology, people will soon become accustomed to the application of Bluetooth low energy in health care and health, and do not even have to think about it when using it.
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