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ITU signs off network spec for personal medical devices

Cisco, IBM, Oracle, Intel, Qualcomm et al can now run your body

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The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has signed off a new standard for communication between personal medical devices.

It will come as no surprise to learn that Intel, Cisco, IBM, Oracle, several consumer electronics giants and the industry groups behind WiFi, Bluetooth and Zigbee are behind the new standard, as they are all members of the Continua Health Alliance.

The ITU's “ITU-T H.810” standard “contains” the Alliance's “Interoperability design guidelines for personal health systems”.

The guidelines are designed to allow easy interoperability between all manner of personal health devices such as “wireless blood pressure cuffs, weight scales and a wide range of activity trackers”. Once such gadgets have a common standard to code to, it is expected it will become easier for them to interoperate so their output can be consumed by other devices, or uploaded into clinical systems that track health.

The standard offers five interfaces, namely:

  • TAN-IF: Interface between touch area network (TAN) health devices and application hosting devices (AHDs)
  • PAN-IF: Interface between personal area network (PAN) health devices and AHDs
  • LAN-IF: Interface between local area network (LAN) health devices and AHDs
  • WAN-IF: Interface between AHDs and wide area network (WAN) health devices
  • HRN-IF: Interface between WAN health devices and Health Record Network health devices

Ratification by the ITU will of course help the Alliance's members to sell stuff, because once a standard like this gets up anyone working with different technology finds it much harder to stay relevant.

And as the president and chair of the Continua Health Alliance, Clint McClellan (day job: Qualcomm) says in the canned statement about the new standard, signoff for the standard ”will further stimulate … global adoption, improving device interoperability and paving the way for complementary e-health standards.”

You read that right: the consortium expects other standards will flow from the ratification of this networking spec.

What's in the standard? It's hard to say because the documents are only accessible to those working on the effort. But this ITU page lists the other standards ITU-T H.810 relies on and suggests it encapsulates a laundry list of wireless and messaging standards. ®

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