CenTrak uses TI's MSP430 MCUs to streamline patient and equipment tracking in Medical facilities

8th November 2007
ES Admin

CenTrak, Inc. has announced the introduction of its InTouch Care Real Time Location System (RTLS), an advanced, easily installed system for tracking medical personnel, patients and equipment that is based on MSP430 microcontroller units (MCUs) from Texas Instruments. The new InTouch Care RTLS employs DualTrakTM technology, a unique combination of radio frequency (RF) and infrared (IR) generates more accurate locations of people and equipment to room and sub-room levels, saving time and costs for hospitals while helping to improve patient care. Thanks to the extremely low power consumption of TI's MSP430 MCUs, InTouch Care's DualTrak infrastructure operates on batteries that last for several years, making the system easy to deploy and scale, as well as inexpensive to maintain.

CenTrak is at the forefront of innovative efforts to develop technology that improves medical efficiencies while creating a better environment and experience for patients, said Cornelia Huellstrunk, worldwide product marketing manager for MSP430, Texas Instruments. By leveraging TI's MSP430 performance and power savings offerings, InTouch Care helps lower the burden of RTLS installation while providing highly accurate tracking, saving costs for facilities and helping to improve medical care.

InTouch Care networks consist of small tags placed on personnel, patients or equipment, room monitors that are scaled like smoke detectors, and access points that are centrally located on a floor and communicate to a computer network. The tags, which offer several options for deployment, come with buttons and LEDs that can be customized for different functions, such as indicating that a patient is ready for a procedure. Non-line-of-sight Gen2IRTM infrared provides unambiguous room-level positioning, and two-way radio frequency (RF) communication enables all units to share location data and system maintenance information as needed.

This unique signaling combination provides faster, more accurate location of tags. Equally important is the InTouch Care installation process, which allows for quick system piloting and ease of deployment in any hospital. Aside from the Ethernet-connected central access points, InTouch Care units operate from batteries that last, under normal operating conditions, up to five years in tags and four years in monitors. Since the units can be installed quickly and without disruptive and costly power line or Ethernet wiring, the deployment process that traditionally required four months of site surveys, preparation and installation, has now been reduced by CenTrak to a few weeks.

The tremendous opportunity for InTouch Care RTLS lies in the solution it offers our customers—simple installation and increased accuracy, said Dr. Ari Naim, CEO of Centrak. InTouch Care's DualTrak breakthrough technology not only creates a widely affordable infrastructure, but more importantly provides the room-level and sub-room-level accuracy that enables valuable and exciting applications. Because InTouch Care is scalable to millions of square feet and is able to track tens of thousands of tags, we expect a wave of small and large companies will build upon our infrastructure to create new solutions for challenges that were previously impossible to solve.

All of CenTrak's InTouch Care units are based on TI's MSP430F20xx MCUs, which extend battery life by approximately 25 percent while providing up to 16 MIPS (million instructions per second) for communication, identification and system control. An ultra-low power mode minimizes power consumption during standby cycles, and a fast wake-up ensures rapid response for active use. Integrated peripherals, including analog-to-digital converters (ADCs), timers and comparators, reduce system cost and assist in keeping tag and monitor circuits as small as their coin-sized batteries. The MCU's on-chip flash memory helps simplify development and enables reprogramming - an essential feature with InTouch Care's addressing requirements - while TI's comprehensive tools and support have helped CenTrak develop its products easily and bring them to market quickly.

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