Dr. McCoy’s tricoder isn't looking too futuristic these days. Not only are real life versions of the Star Trek device under development, but some new medical devices are making it look a bit old fashioned. Take, for example, the ViSi Mobile vital signs monitor built by Sotera Wireless of San Diego, California. This wearable sensor pack uses Wi-Fi technology and is claimed to allow doctors using a tablet or smartphone to remotely monitor patient vital signs with the accuracy of an intensive care unit.

Designed around the concept of “monitoring in motion,” the ViSi Mobile consists of several units made of rugged, water-resistant plastic. These include a wrist unit with monitor readout, chest sensors, a blood pressure cuff monitor and a thumb sensor. These are connected to the existing hospital data infrastructure via Wi-Fi with WPA2 encryption for security.

These sensors allow doctors to constantly monitor blood oxygen levels, blood pressure, heart rate, electrocardiogram readings and skin temperature with the accuracy of an intensive care unit, while allowing patients to stay in ordinary hospital rooms or move about.

The readouts from the sensors can be accessed from ViSi Mobile’s wrist monitor’s touchscreen or by means of a desktop PC, a tablet or a smartphone. The wrist monitor’s readouts are locked by authorization codes, so the patient can’t access them.

The purpose of all of this is more than just giving medical technicians a cool-looking piece of wireless gear to play with. The idea is to provide doctors with immediate, direct access to a patient’s vital signs whether at an ambulance scene or while the patient is walking about in hospital.

This continuous monitoring removes some human error and gives fewer reasons to disturb patients. It also helps in the early detection of patient deterioration, which the current practice of taking vital sign readings every few hours often misses. Furthermore, the ViSi Mobile technology frees up expensive intensive care unit spaces and allows patients the enjoyment of more mobility.

Sotera sees future expansion of the ViSi Mobile technology, including monitoring patients after they’ve been discharged, the inclusion of a cuffless non-invasive blood pressure (cNIBP) sensor and the monitoring of patient posture or activity as a “new vital sign.”

The video below shows ViSi Mobile’s features.

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