My recent stay in the hospital brought home just how prolific the MCU is in medical device design. So, it seemed like a reasonable topic for my first back-from-the-brink-of-death live chat.
I was lucky in my timing of the heart attack. I was nearby a new, high-end hospital that had highly ranked doctors and state-of-the-art equipment. Many of these devices likely used multiple high-performance processors, but many others were clearly microcontroller-based.
There was, for instance, a portable pulse oximeter that one of the nurses brought in for her own convenience. I was required to walk four times a day starting the second day after surgery, and trailed along with me several rolling poles containing IVs, oxygen concentrators, heart monitors, and an oximeter. I pushed the cart containing the concentrator and monitors, and the nurse escort moved the poles. But over the next few days, as I got weaned off of various IVs and oxygen, I was left with just the oximeter to push around. The nurse decided to dispense with the one on the cart and use her own to keep tabs on me as I circled the ward, completely freeing me from extraneous baggage.
This device clamped onto the end of my finder and provided a readout of my blood's O2 saturation. It was scarcely larger than the clamp itself, with a readout of about one-inch square. Battery powered, obviously, and highly compact. Seemed like an MCU design to me. Don't think the device from Choice Electronics below was the exact unit, but it is representative and costs less than $70 USD.
A portable pulse oximeter like this, which costs under $70, is undoubtedly MCU-based.
There were lots of other places where I could see MCUs as having a home in medical electronics. Further, many of the pieces I saw were complex, multi-function devices but could easily have been separated into smaller and lower-cost individual pieces suitable for MCU design. The target for such designs would be home or clinical use.
So, it seemed to me that it might be a good topic for my first chat of the month. Let's talk about medical MCU designs, what kinds of requirements they must meet, where there is an opportunity for creating personal medical devices, and the like.
The chat will be at this link, live, on Friday, February 22, at 11:00 a.m. ET, 8:00 a.m. PT. As that puts it on a weekend night for many of you on the far side of the world from me, I am hoping you will be able to join in.
Looking forward to chatting with you all once again.