Wireless tech saves lives

Many of us associate Qualcomm with mobile tech, the Brew MP OS, Snapdragon processors and the like, but, obviously, there's much more to the company than that.

Indeed, its expertise in wireless technology, and relevant chipset manufacture, has all manner of practical uses, many of which could benefit us in more ways than simple communication.

One such area is covered by the Californian giant's Health & Life Sciences division, a subsidiary that works with partners in the medical field in order to create technological breakthroughs in health care. And, while this department has been operational since 2003, products are now seeping out as if from an open wound.

Life-saving tech, such as the Dexcom SEVEN PLUS wireless band-aid, which monitors glucose levels in diabetic patients over a 7-day period and sends the data wirelessly to a compatible device (or mobile phone, if FDA approval is forthcoming), use Qualcomm chips.

There's also the Piix smart band-aid, an ambulatory cardiac monitoring service, which sends data on heart rate, automatic arrhythmia detection, ECG and other important information, and sends it remotely back to a hospital, for example.

Intelligent stethoscopes have also made it onto the market, such as 3M Littmann's 3200, a listening device that also records and sends the data to a PC via Bluetooth. The software then aids a doctor in making a diagnosis. Proper Star Trek stuff.

But, for us, the most interesting new application for Qualcomm's wireless tech in the medical field is the adoption of minute chips in tablets. Nope, not iPad style devices: Pills.That you swallow. Whole.

Using RF signals, smart pills can transmit data on your inner system to an external source, or can inform a health care professional on such things as what time a patient takes their medication.


Don Jones, Qualcomm's vice president, Health & Life Sciences, demonstrates the 3M Littmann electronic stethoscope

Unfortunately, we haven't seen them in action yet - they're still in the clinical trial period - and there's not much likelihood of a "hands-on", but as Don Jones, Qualcomm's vice president, Health & Life Sciences, says, "wireless technology can transform an antiquated health care industry". And we don't doubt it.

Would you be willing to strap Wi-Fi tech to your body after an operation? Or, do you think we shouldn't meddle with nature? Let us know in the comments below...