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BYU developing medical smart cards

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  • Sterling D. Allan
    (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
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 25, 2001
      (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


      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
      Washington, D.C.
      "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
      a year."
      The other possible downside is convincing people that constantly
      transmitting their medical history from this card will not lead to a breach
      of privacy.
      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
      are enormous."


      Forwarded by Greater Things News Service


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