LynuxWorks and Portwell develop wireless body sensor platform for patient monitoring

1 June 2010

LynuxWorks, Inc. and Portwell, Inc. have developed a proof-of-concept wireless sensor platform for hospital patient monitoring.

 When monitoring vital signs (such as EKG and blood oxygenation) during a patient’s hospital stay, sensors must be attached to the body; frequently this results in an awkward and uncomfortable tangle of wires.

To help untether patients, the proof-of-concept platform can connect to more than 25 Bluetooth wireless biometric sensors and has the ability to graphically portray patient sensor data for visual monitoring in a familiar Windows environment.

The platform uses the Portwell WADE-8067, an Intel Core2 Duo
processor-based Mini-ITX board. Running on the board, LynxSecure from LynuxWorks provides state-of-the-art software virtualization technology that makes it possible to securely run both a Linux operating system and an unmodified Windows operating system in parallel on the platform. The proof-of-concept (PoC) demonstrates a means whereby medical equipment manufacturers can quickly port legacy wired sensor applications to a new wireless multicore platform.

The Windows operating system, for example, is used to provide the
environment for graphical user interfaces (GUI) and other open applications.

LynxSecure makes it possible to safely run multiple applications on a single platform by isolating them into separate partitions to prevent unintended or dangerous software interactions. In a multicore environment, LynxSecure further provides the ability to consolidate two physically separate systems into one unit. For example, it is possible to bring together one or more embedded patient monitoring platforms with the desktop Windows operating system platform that runs the practitioner’s GUI into a single compact platform. This allows a huge savings in costs, system maintenance and footprint space.

“Although wireless technology is ubiquitous in many healthcare devices, there has been some reluctance to use it for critical patient care. Industry standards such as ISO 14971 for the application of risk management to medical devices are helping to address many safety and security concerns,” said Stephen Balacco, director Embedded Software and Tools practice, VDC Research.

“ISO 14971 requires manufacturers to show they have taken measures to prevent software defects, including unintended software interactions that can result in failure, such as one application overwriting the memory space of another. Highly secure software environments such as LynxSecure that control memory boundaries can prevent applications from accessing the data regions of other applications, and thus help manufacturers meet safety-critical standards.”

Addressing the full range of requirements for robust wireless sensor medical applications, the PoC combines state-of-the-art virtualization, remote management and hardware security using an advanced multicore processing platform. Virtualization technology increases reliability by isolating software workloads; remote management improves availability by enabling technicians to fix system defects quickly; and hardware-based security protects patient data by preventing unauthorized software from executing.

“The close pairing of both advanced hardware and software technologies offers the performance and security required by today's demanding medical applications,” commented George Brooks, director of business development, medical segment at LynuxWorks.

“Taking advantage of the hardware virtualization capabilities of the PoC platform, LynxSecure offers the ability to run guest operating systems at near-native performance. For example, it enables an unmodified Windows operating system to run at much higher performance than other solutions that rely on the traditional emulation layer approach.”

“Multicore and virtualization are changing the way the medical manufacturers develop next-generation applications,” noted Alex Zilberman, medical segment manger, Intel’s Embedded and Communications Group. “The use of a secure separation kernel and hypervisor such as LynxSecure enables new highly integrated platforms such as the PoC to provide more processing power, lower energy consumption and dramatically reduce bill-of-material costs.”

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