eHealth: One wearable wireless hub to connect them all

18th December 2019
Anna Flockett

With the rise of the medical Internet of Things (IoT), the healthcare sector is getting much more than a facelift. Continuous data‑records collected using body‑worn medical sensors that transmit wirelessly to the cloud give medical professionals a much more complete assessment of their patients’ health. In addition to offering doctors new tools for disease prevention, early diagnostics, and follow‑up, patients benefit from closer monitoring and simplified interaction with the healthcare providers. 

It’s a triple win: improved patient outcomes, improved capacity, and all that at a lower cost.

There are, however, still some obstacles that are keeping the technology from fulfilling its potential. One looms large: how can patient data be sent efficiently, securely, and reliably to healthcare providers? With the multitude of medical devices that are currently available, and many more still in the pipeline, adoption of the technology will depend on the development of a new paradigm for secure wireless eHealth.

To overcome this obstacle, we at u‑blox joined forces with Leikr to develop a smart medical watch that acts as a wireless gateway, channeling data from other medical devices to the cloud. Designed to offer full end‑to‑end security, protect patient safety, and ensure data confidentiality, the watch helps cope with the complex integration of multiple wireless connectivity components into a single device.

Built around u‑blox wireless communication and positioning hardware, the Leikr smart medical watch helps track all kinds of biometric data, including blood pressure, blood glucose, heartrate, stress levels, and EKGs. A u‑blox NINA‑B3 module receives data from a range of stationary or wearable medical sensors using Bluetooth low energy (BLE), while the integrated u‑blox ZOE‑M8 global navigation satellite system (GNSS) receiver tracks the patient’s position. And finally, a u‑blox SARA‑R5 module uploads the medical and geographic data to the cloud using low power wide area cellular technology (NB‑IoT and LTE‑M), enabling power‑constrained, low throughput applications that need reliable connectivity even in hard to reach places.

To meet challenging demands set by the end‑users – patients often live far away from the nearest cellular base station, and hospitals are notorious for their poor cellular reception – the watch is power‑optimised and designed for increased network coverage and enhanced signal penetration inside buildings. Furthermore, hospitals are home to an ever‑growing number of wirelessly connected devices. To ensure that vital data is not lost and precious bandwidth not wasted, the watch’s wireless communications are optimised for cellular spectrum efficiency.

Still in a prototype stage, the watch demos a straightforward integration of LPWA and BLE connectivity with GNSS in a wearable medical IoT gateway. In addition to being simple to configure – using our u‑connect connectivity software – the device builds on a hardware‑based Root of Trust that is integrated in the SARA‑R5 module and used to derive trusted keys that cryptographically communicate with the cloud back‑end.

Contact us to learn more about the connectivity technology behind the Leikr medical gateway, or to order a development board to prototype your next secure wireless eHealth solution. 

Guest blog written by Diego Grassi, Senior Manager Product Strategy Cellular, Industrial Market Development, u‑blox.

Courtesy of u-blox.

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