Austin (TX) - A company called Motion, working in tandem with Intel through Intel Health, has developed a truly usable piece of technology. It's an amped up tablet PC with abilities specifically built in for the health care fields. And while that may sound boring in and of itself, and while it's one thing to have hardware, the Motion C5 brings together some powerful software features and slick interfaces, which is where its real power lies.
The hardware itself is pretty standard. Built around a Core Solo Processor U1400 (1.2 GHz), the device is basically a low-powered tablet PC. It doesn't have to be a high performance machine though. What's required more than performance is long battery life. In this particular application, it also needs to have some decent 3D abilities or, at the very least, some high-end 2D abilities. It comes with 512 MB of RAM (upgradeable to 1.5 GB), a 30 GB HD (upgradeable to 60 GB), Integrated Intel PRO/Wireless 3945 ABG, a magnesium-alloy internal frame with elastomer overmolding. The entire case is sealed to allow disinfection. It has space in the case for an optional 1D or 2D barcode reader. It has an integrated ISO15693 compliant 13.56 MHz RFID reader, as well as its own 13.56 MHz RFID tag, a 2.0 Megapixel camera, one year warranty (upgradeable to two or three years), an optional "Anywhere Display", Motion DataGuard, etc. The device itself can also be physically mounted into a docking station, making it a full-fledged PC. There are a host of other mounting devices which are also available.
The physical package has a handle at the top, allowing the tablet PC to be wielded like a bag. The entire case is splash-proof. The laser bar code reader is positioned ideally for ergonomic handling of the device. It also has an appropriately mounted camera, one which allows the image acquisition screen to be pointed at the user while acquiring. And it has its most powerful feature: integrated databasing software. A central system exists, one which allows remote retrieval of database information wirelessly from anywhere. That data can be displayed in real-time to the patient as needed, to other doctors, nurses, or at any time for review, documentation and other purposes.
All of these base hardware abilities are tied together by the intelligent software design. In future generations it will likely become fully contextual aware. This would allow, for example, nurses to walk into a patient's field of view (as determined by the RFID tags) with their data automatically brought up, or brought to the ready so that a single push button or voice command will bring it forward. The user interface will also include easy access to patient data with voice- or click-through access. Common items, like length of time until next medication, the ability to automatically log dispensing of medication, application of treatment, turning, washing, visits by doctors, and other activities, can all be recorded through the contextual aware environment.
The Motion C5 also takes the doctor's chart to a whole new level. Nurses can physically carry them around as need. Doctors can too. Doctors can walk into a room carrying the same device that was used seconds before to view the other patient's chart. Anything flagged by the nurse or other doctors will come up, and any real-time relayed vital stats will be available, including a history for immediate review. Anyone logged into the system can access the common database and, no matter where they area of the medical facility they're in, see live charts with everything for every patient, as is piped through the network.
Motion was founded in 2001, headquartered in Austin, Texas. They sell products to 24 countries in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia. Their products are in a continual state of improvement as this field of technology is particularly lucrative. It is likely that several significant advancements in database management, those which are contextually aware, while simultaneously being appropriately so, will be made at Motion. Their close partnership with Intel will undoubtedly also foster an exchange of knowledge and technology from future many-core, compute intensive applications, specifically those targeted for Larrabee and Terascale.
Software is getting ready to make a huge leap. Presently, nearly everything is event driven. In fact, it's the basis of the computer architecture. Still, the events driving the actual applications, for the most part at least, are directed by humans. We specify something, such as clicking on a document to open it. The machine responds to that event and does it.
In the future, the machines will use event models to determine what it is most likely that thing we'd want to do at a given time. The machine will then take a cue from that model and do in advance that thing of our modeled request. If we end up not using it, then nothing was really wasted as it can simply be closed, or moved into the background. If we do end up using it, however, then there it is already ready already.
Software ideas like these are win-win for users, and the Intel Health software this machine uses is part of that global software design paradigm. There's almost nothing to be lost by having contextual aware user interfaces, and so much can potentially be gained. There will likely be a period of several years of annoying, and oh so annoying, quirks as this type of user interface is flushed out. Still, in the end, and certainly by the year 2020, the computers we use then will bear so little resemblance to the computers we use today, and not just in performance increases, but rather the entire experience.
I have seen hints of this cropping up in various software efforts for years. To my knowledge, outside of strict academia, no one has made a truly beneficial commercial product which yet brings together all of these machine abilities we possess today in a usable way. The Motion C5, when I read about it, was about the closest device I've seen toward that end. I'm sure it still has a long way to go to be completely usable, but it was enough to cause me to write this article.
I would very much like to challenge software developers, of which I am one, to begin focusing their attention on this type of software development. The experts at Intel that I have personally interviewed on high-performance, future computing, all indicate one thing very clearly: It is the software model of tomorrow.