Reading time ( words)
If you remember our September issue on automotive electronics, you probably recall that the applications for electronics in the automotive industry seemed to be exploding with limitless possibilities. Well, after reading up on this month’s topic, I believe medical electronics is doing the same—and then some. I see the medical electronics industry today as overlapping several of the traditional market divisions—computer (from the doctor’s office to you to the hospital to caregivers), communications (think of it as “telehealth”), consumer (it’s for us, right?), industrial equipment and of course medical. And who knows when it will also encompass automotive and milaero? But let’s not forget security, since equipment and wearables are definitely part of the Internet of Things. We don’t even want to think about a surgical laser being hacked, or an implanted pacemaker suddenly being commandeered.
So many sub-segments to medical electronics exist, such as sensors, diagnostics, monitoring technology, medical devices and surgical equipment (think lasers and beyond), and components like batteries and computers. And let’s not forget wearables, implantables and in gestibles, along with the IoT connectivity that brings it all together. We are living in a fantastic age.
I am fascinated by the possibilities of an ingestible capsule that can be directed to exactly the right spot in the body to target diseases and cancers. Laser-assisted surgery just seems to make so much sense as does the ability to visit multiple specialists and get multiple diagnoses without leaving your living room. Could the increased use of sophisticated sensors and monitors in (and outside of) hospitals help alleviate the chronic shortage of nurses?
As an aside, I came across an article in Smithsonian Magazine about Lilianna Zyszkoski who designed the PillMinder, a device to help doctors check that patients are properly taking their medications. This was encouraging to read, because she was in the sixth grade when she began building a working prototype of her invention, teaching herself about components, circuit design and even how to hand-solder in the process (note to New England SMTA chapter: track her down!). Now, at age 15, she has filed a patent with Gatekeeper Innovation for a pill bottle that houses her technology in the “smartcap.”
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the January 2016 issue of The PCB Magazine.