The application of fundamental semiconductor technologies to medicine, whether in the form of microarrays, microfluidics or neuro chips, is yielding tangible products.
Given the collision of "increasing demands with dwindling resources," the health care industry's rising interest in electronics and communications technologies is inevitable, FocalPoint Group market researchers wrote in a recent report. The report predicts that "wireless technologies will enable major structural changes in the U.S. health care industry," driving efficiency in "remote telemedicine, product/supplies tracking and equipment monitoring."
This In Focus report explores the technologies driving medical applications. Stergios Stergiopoulos and Amar Dhanantwari of Canamet note that innovative DSP architectures are enabling portable, noninvasive diagnostic and monitoring equipment. François Pelletier of Zarlink looks at in-body wireless health monitoring with an emphasis on ultralow-power RF technologies for cameras that can be swallowed and devices that can be implanted. Analog Devices' Eberhard Brunner discusses component selection for ultrasound equipment design.
In an online article, Freescale's Kevin Klein notes that key networking technologies with roots in the communication and automotive industries are finding homes in medical gear. Also online, IMEC's Bert Gyselinckx envisions a body-area network of miniaturized smart sensor nodes that would send data to a central intelligent node, which in turn would communicate wirelessly with a basestation. STMicroelectronics' Barbara Grieco and Stefano Lopriore discuss MEMS technology's use for a DNA lab-on-chip, while Roland Thewes of Infineon Technologies describes his team's development of CMOS-based DNA microarrays.
Menno Prins at Philips Research explores the need for mass-manufacturable technologies for biochips, and Tom Darbonne at Cradle Technologies discusses the role of multiprocessing DSPs in next-generation medical equipment. And Scott Jenkins and Christopher Perrera of IBM ask whether society is prepared to embrace the new medicine enabled by technology.