February 26, 2012
Bluetooth low energy enabled iPhone applications for mobile health
By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Cambridge Consultants will demonstrate its latest Bluetooth low energy (BLE) iPhone 4S applications using CSR's BLE devices at this year's Mobile World Congress. Cambridge Consultants recently worked with CSR on tools and example device software that assists developers wishing to create applications for Apple's latest iPhone and Mac products; one key target group for this being the growing mobile health (mHealth) market.
BLE enables ultra-low power connectivity and basic data transfer for applications previously limited by power consumption, size constraints and complexity of other wireless standards.
The BLE iPhone app demonstrates the transfer of blood pressure readings, using the BLE Blood Pressure Profile, while running on an example single-mode BLE device that could readily be incorporated into a blood pressure monitor. Every BLE application faces its own challenges relating to power consumption, data transfer requirement and constraints of the smartphone. Leveraging its technical and medical regulatory expertise, Cambridge Consultants is able to optimise usability for both the device and the smartphone to meet the needs of the mHealth space.
With its simple, yet powerful, user interface and open programming platform, Apple and its iPhone line have spurred the increase use of smartphones for applications, including in the mHealth space. As a recent Cambridge Consultants report; 'The Business of Health & Wellness: Engaging customers and making money' outlined, the consumer and medical spaces are likely to converge in the near future.
Health-focused iPhone apps sit neatly at this intersection—more than 6,000 health-related apps have been developed in the short time since its arrival. The iPad has also made an impact in clinical environments, with 30 percent of US physicians now owning an iPad and using it to simplify their daily routines, according to a survey conducted by Manhattan Research in 2011.
For mHealth, both local and wide area communications are required and with most mobile phone operating systems providing native Bluetooth stacks, BLE is an ideal technology for integration. BLE technology is designed for low peak current consumption, permitting operation via standard coin-cell batteries and permitting battery life of up to one year.
With wireless access to mobile devices becoming the norm, battery life is a critical concern for any new product entering the market. Devices for which BLE has been defined typically run from primary cells and do not need regular charging. BLE has been designed to provide long-term wireless connection capability without altering the usability of the devices, and require low-cost batteries that must power the wireless capability for very long periods, often until the device itself is replaced. By applying its expertise in tool development, app design and BLE software development, Cambridge Consultants was able to help CSR to stay ahead of the curve and position itself well for what comes next in the mHealth space.
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