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EETE JUNE 2013

istered in real time, providing for far better health outcomes. The same vision – home-based, self-administered monitoring providing real-time data – is also driving developments in heart monitoring, digestive system monitoring, and even psychological monitoring. For patients and medical professionals, this vision is wholly benign. But what of the manufacturers of today’s fixed monitoring equipment, selling high-priced items to hospitals and health services? What happens when a gadget metamorphoses into a pharmaceutical? Some lessons can be learned from other industries. Electricity meters, for instance, are being transformed from simple, stand-alone electro-mechanical devices, into connected smart appliances. SoC manufacturers such as Freescale are integrating nearly all the important functions of the meter into a single chip or chipset. Yet while Freescale provides enormous value to the meter manufacturer, it does not replace it: the meter manufacturer still designs the meter’s display, its interface to utility systems and its housing. And the meter manufacturer owns the relationship with the utilities: it understands their requirements, and has a brand trusted to meet those requirements. Medical equipment manufacturers can enjoy a similar kind of relationship with semiconductor suppliers. The large medical equipment manufacturers have proven sales and marketing programs for addressing medical practitioners, and strong and trusted brands. While there are numerous bio-technology start-ups trying to disrupt the medical equipment industry, the incumbents have a far greater ability to sell new technology to the medical profession. But their relationship with components suppliers is going to change: where before the equipment manufacturer entirely controlled the way digital, analogue and peripheral components were integrated into a complete system, in future this integration will largely occur on-chip. This will require far more collaboration between equipment OEMs and semiconductor manufacturers than in the past. In effect, the two sides will need to work together to define the specifications of the device that the semiconductor manufacturer will produce. Component distributors have a role to play here as well, providing an expert interface between the OEM and the semiconductor supplier. The OEM will be more reliant on the SoC manufacturer than ever in the past, yet semiconductor manufacturers do not have the resources to serve more than a handful of OEM customers directly. This means that the ability of distributors to smooth the supply chain from chip to end equipment looks set to become even more important. So while patients and practitioners can look forward with excitement to the possibility of improved diagnoses and treatments, for medical OEMs and distributors there is now much to learn if the transition to medical nanotechnology is not to lead to commercial casualties. Temperature Variable Attenuators TVAs from the recognized leader in high reliability resistive components offer: • Case size 0.150” x 0.125” x 0.200” • Choice of three temperature coefficient of attenuation (TCA) values: -0.003, -0.007, -0.009 • Attenuation values from 1-10 dB • Planar design with solderable or wire bondable terminations • Lower signal distortion, phase change and intermodulation compared with active circuit temperature compensation When the mission is critical, choose State of the Art. State of the Art, Inc. ResisTive PRoduCTs Made in the USA. www.electronics-eetimes.com Electronic Engineering Times Europe June 2013 31


EETE JUNE 2013
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