BYU developing medical smart cards
- (removal instructions at end)
Preface comment by Sterling:
Technology itself is not bad. The question is how it is applied. We can't
be too hard on these BYU students for not seeing how much their invention
plays into the hands of the Beast, because in and of itself, in a context of
freedom and trust (which is not the situation in the world today), this
would be a good idea.
I'm linking to this story from
will be archived at
Students Put Doctor in Your Pocket
Monday, June 25, 2001
Peter Jones, left, and David Vawdrey are two of four BYU students who
developed a smart card that relays medical information to paramedics through
Bluetooth wireless technology. The greenish cards are the wireless Bluetooth
radio chips, and the smart card is at center. (Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake
BY VINCE HORIUCHI
THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE
A team of Brigham Young University engineering students thinks its
members may have a smart idea using "smart cards."
They have built a new prototype the size of a credit card called the
Poket Doktor -- a kind of wireless medical bracelet -- that can transmit
important medical information about the patient. Paramedics arriving at an
accident scene, for example, can use a cell phone, laptop or palmtop
computer to view the information on the spot.
The idea is intriguing enough to qualify the team of four BYU students
as one of 10 world finalists in the Computer Systems International Design
Competition sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics
Engineers. They are making their presentation in the final round today in
"Because this is wireless, the emergency medical technician doesn't have
to have access to the person's body," said one of the students, Peter Jones,
23, a senior in electrical engineering originally from Providence in Cache
"If we are able to execute on our reasonable scenarios, we're fairly
confident that we will return to positive cash flow," Johnson said.
"If a person's somehow unavailable or in a car accident, and the EMT
can't get to them, they can still download the data even if they can't see
that person," he said.
The Poket Doktor card utilizes two fairly recent technologies: "smart
cards" used in newer credit cards, and the "Bluetooth" standard, a
technology that allows digital devices such as a computer or Palm Pilot to
communicate with one another via short-range radio waves.
The smart card is the portion that stores all of a person's medical data
in about 32 kilobytes of memory. This could include drug allergies, medical
conditions, even a past history of hospital visits and treatments.
The technology is being used on credit cards to store bank account
The medical data in the Poket Doktor is encrypted or scrambled and then
transmitted from the card via the Bluetooth technology.
The Bluetooth standard was designed by a consortium of computing and
telecommunications companies to make computers and digital appliances "talk"
to one another wirelessly.
With it, printers and scanners could be connected to computers without
cables, or data on a laptop could be transferred to a desktop computer
without hooking up wires.
"The benefit of Bluetooth is that it is small and inexpensive," said
team member David Vawdrey, 23, a senior in computer engineering from
The team also includes Eric Hall of El Toro, Calif., and Matthew Young
of Keizer, Ore., both 23.
For the prototype, the group has hooked its card up to a laptop that
transmits the data to another laptop. But miniaturizing all of that is
possible now, members say.
"The companies processing these Bluetooth radios already have gotten
them down to the size of your pinky nail," Jones said. "It should be a
trivial problem for them to implement it on a single card."
The Poket Doktor, which the person could carry in his or her wallet, is
always emitting a low-power signal in "sleep mode" that a battery could
power for up to two years.
But if the person is in an accident, a paramedic could use a laptop or
palmtop computer to tell the card to turn on and transmit all the person's
medical information. Or the cards could work at a doctor's office.
"You wouldn't have to take it out of your wallet," Jones said. "You
could just walk into a room, and they download your information."
BYU officials have submitted the team's idea for a patent, though its
success depends on making the batteries and Bluetooth receivers smaller.
"These are issues that the students didn't have to address, yet there
are still things that need to be done to make it commercially viable," said
the team's adviser, Michael Wirthlin, assistant professor of electrical and
computer engineering. "But there is no reason it could not be viable within
The other possible downside is convincing people that constantly
transmitting their medical history from this card will not lead to a breach
The team has designed the card so that the transmitted data is encrypted
and can only be unscrambled by a doctor or paramedic with a capable laptop,
cell phone or palmtop computer.
"With concerns about privacy, it's more of a social than a technical
issue," Wirthlin said. "Aside from that, the actual practical applications
Forwarded by Greater Things News Service
Bcc (blind carbon copy) recipients:
Along with the subscribed recipients, I have sent this to several Bcc
recipients including yourself. If you do not wish to receive any further
e-mail from me, please reply to this message with "REMOVE" in the subject
To subscribe to one of the mailing services, go to:
Then let me know which one you have selected so I can make a note of it to
avoid sending you double posts.