Application Focus: Healthcare and Fitness
Healthcare and personal fitness, is an industry that analysts believe there will be substantial growth over the next few years, many suggesting a market value well in excess of $10 billion (USD). Leaps in the industry have been provided by much of the modern day technology such as smartphones and other wireless technologies.
Personal fitness and healthcare has transitioned from a doctor's office or gym environment to a more mobile 'lifestyle' approach. Manufacturers have developed numerous sensor products such as pedometers, heart rate monitors, body fat calipers and digital weigh scales all designed to provide users and doctors with the health data.
Other manufacturers have built an industry around creating applications operating on PC's or smartphones that make use of the sensor data and provide both doctors and users with fast and factual feedback.
Getting the data from the sensor across public and private networks securely has fueled enormous growth for both the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless standards. Wi-Fi has allowed home networks to act as gateways between weigh scales, body fat sensors and personal blood/glucose sensors to ensure timely delivery of data to medical facilities while Bluetooth has allowed smartphones to give users real-time feedback from heart rate monitors and pedometers.
Bluetooth offers a number of advantages in the personal fitness and healthcare market space. Whilst offering excellent robustness in high data traffic areas through the use of frequency hopping, its strong security algorithms and low power consumption also make it a very low cost wireless solution available in almost 100% of mobile phones today. Roving offers Bluetooth solutions for both Class 1 and Class 2 operation. Bluetooth Class 1 offers a long range operation with distances of over 100m typically attainable while Bluetooth Class 2 offers typical ranges of 20-30m.
802.11 Wi-Fi infrastructures are now typical in most home environments. With Wi-Fi available medical sensors can be placed anywhere in a house. Wi-Fi infrastructures offer the advantage that the mobile phone paired with the sensor does not need to be present to allow communication between the care giver and the device.