Open Source Embedded Technology & Health IT Systems

Embedded computer systems are usually designed to do a few specific functions, often with real-time computing constraints.  They are being installed within an increasingly wide range of complex systems or devices, e.g. smartphones, HVAC systems, washing machines, autos, etc.

The installation of embedded systems in medical equipment is also continuing to advance in such areas as - vital sign monitoring, electronic stethoscopes, medical imaging systems, hearing aids, wearable health IT systems, robotic surgical devices, and more. Many of these devices can also be interfaced to EHR and/or PHR systems.

Embedded system should not be confused with implantable systems which are normally physically inserted into a bio-system of some sort, e.g. humans, animals, etc.

There are a growing number of 'open source' embedded software tools and solutions in the marketplace. The following are selected examples of some of these available products:

·   Embedded Linux – A site listing open source Embedded Linux projects and/or software products available for implementation.
·   EtherNut -  An open Source implementation of a Real Time Operating System called Nut/OS and a TCP/IP protocol suite used to build tiny embedded ethernet devices.
·   FreeRTOS - An open source, real time kernel designed for development and use in small embedded systems.
·   MatrixSSL – An open-source Secure Socket Layer (SSL) implementation designed specifically for use in embedded environments for small footprint applications and devices.
·   NicheTask -  A small, efficient and flexible 'open source' multi-task execution system designed for use in embedded devices.
·   TinyOS - An open source operating system designed for low-power wireless devices, such as those used in sensor networks, smart buildings, smart meters, etc.

Many of these tools are being used to embed software into a growing range of medical devices and wearable health IT systems.

Other selected links to sites focused on open source embedded software solutions  include:
·   Open Embedded Software Foundation
·   Embedded Master Open Source Project
·   Hydra Middleware for Embedded Systems

Do you know of any medical devices with embedded technology that can be interfaced to electronic health record (EHR) or personal health record (PHR) systems? Tell us about them.