The third-generation Apple iPad features Bluetooth 4.0 Smart Ready technology to allow patients to connect to interoperable medical monitoring devices.
Along with the announcement
of Apple's third-generation iPad on March 7, the tablet is getting a wireless
upgrade with Bluetooth 4.0 Smart Ready connectivity. The Bluetooth Special
Interest Group (SIG) announced the availability of Smart Ready technology for
the new version of the Apple tablet, bringing new possibilities for
remote-monitoring medical applications.
Made up of 14,000 member
companies, Bluetooth SIG
is a nonprofit trade association that publishes the Bluetooth specifications
and manages the qualification program for the technology.
Apple's iPhone 4S and
Motorola's Droid Razr are among the smartphones that feature Bluetooth Smart
Ready connectivity, which the SIG introduced in the fall of 2011.
The new iPad is the first
tablet to support Bluetooth Smart Ready technology. The current iPad 2 connects
to Bluetooth 2.1 medical devices but will be unable to connect with new
Bluetooth Smart Ready devices, Michael Foley executive director of Bluetooth
SIG, told eWEEK.
An obvious difference in
connecting Bluetooth devices to the iPad compared with the iPhone 4S is the
tablet's larger HD display, which will allow doctors and patients to get a
crisp view of medical readings and trends in data, said Foley.
"You can chart your
heart rate," said Foley. "Being able to look at graphs over time on
the iPad I think will be really cool."
Smart Ready technology
features the low-energy technology and increased battery efficiency of
The latest Bluetooth spec
will allow consumer devices such as keyboards and mice to connect to the iPad
first, but industrial medical devices will soon launch on the market that will
connect patients and doctors using any type of Bluetooth device (4.0 or
"The initial wave has
been consumer devices," said Foley. "The more industrial-strength
[devices] in hospitals and doctors' offices are, for the most part, still on
Patients will transmit vital
data from glucometers, fitness sensors or heart-rate monitors to the iPad using
Bluetooth. The Apple tablet then transmits the data to cloud health platforms,
such as Qualcomm's new 2net service or Microsoft's HealthVault, using a WiFi,
3G or 4G connection.
In addition, Bluetooth
medical devices are used to care for the elderly and monitor chronic conditions,
such as diabetes.
With medical data traveling
from the Bluetooth device to the cloud by way of the iPad, caregivers and
family can monitor and provide feedback, said Foley.
Smart Ready devices allow
people to track their heart rate, distance, speed and elevation during a
workout. Meanwhile, diabetics can connect their glucometer to mobile apps on
the iPad to keep track of their blood glucose numbers.
Bluetooth SIG expects to
expand the Smart Ready platforms to Windows 8 and Android tablets this year.
Regarding adding Smart Ready to Android tablets, Foley said, "The
[Bluetooth] software is out there, and people could do it, but to my knowledge,
nobody has done that yet."
Smart Ready peripherals
incorporate military-grade 128-bit encryption, which could help keep medical
information more secure during data transfer.
eavesdrop and see your vital signs or whatever information is being transmitted
to hospitals and doctors offices," said Foley.
enthusiastically using the iPad, it remains to be seen if software vendors will
optimize clinical applications in time for the latest version of the tablet. In
a Jan. 31 report, called "Point of Care Computing for Physicians
2012," the Spyglass Consulting Group found that software vendors have yet
to invest in the software
innovation necessary for the iPad
to make a strong impact on care delivery.
As far as connecting medical
devices on third-generation iPads, Bluetooth's Smart Ready technology holds
promise for interoperability, suggested Gregg Malkary, managing director of
Spyglass Consulting Group. "Bluetooth in the past was a nightmare,"
Malkary told eWEEK
. The technology is
now becoming more "seamless" and "consumer-friendly," he
Consumers will be able to
buy Bluetooth medical devices at pharmacies and connect them to their iPad,