What's in your fantasy medical device operating system? Here's mine:

  1. Royalty free
  2. A true real time OS
  3. Connectivity support on par with Windows CE (TCP/IP, wireless, USB, etc.)
  4. Royalty free
  5. Something without the hacker appeal of Microsoft Windows (is easy to lock down, and isn't patched every week)
  6. Approval-ready for up to FDA Class III medical devices
  7. A full set of developer tools on par with Windows and beyond
  8. Did I mention royalty free?

An outfit called Green Hills Software announced the introduction
of a new software platform optimized for medical devices. Microsoft's
strengths have always been the built in connectivity support,
development tools, and a ready source of Windows-experienced engineers.
The weaknesses have included royalty cost, overhead, and the fact that
it's not a true real time embedded operating system. Green Hills cut
their teeth on the "other" high reliability embedded device market,
aerospace, and have extended their products to meet medical market
requirements. From the press release:

  • Significantly reduced product approval cost and risk with
    faster time-to-market. Medical device manufacturers can take advantage
    of an RTOS that is approval-ready to minimize the quantity of software
    and documentation that they must develop for product approval. In
    addition, by utilizing the available Rhapsody Model Driven Development
    environment, it is possible to link requirements to model elements and
    to generated code, facilitating the process of proving that all
    requirements are met. Rhapsody also automatically produces
    documentation needed to support the approval effort.
  • Absolute
    information security. Strict patient information protection dictated by
    regulations like HIPPA requires medical devices that collect and
    distribute patient information to be absolutely tamper proof and
    secure. The INTEGRITY architecture was designed to prevent hackers’
    access to this personal information. And the integrated support for
    leading networking security protocols and crypto algorithms provides a
    secure path for untethered transfer of this information to the central
    hospital systems.
  • Reduced hardware costs, power and heat
    dissipation requirements. Green Hills leading compiler and linker
    technology allows the end user to develop smaller, faster application
    code allowing the designer to reduce the memory requirements and
    processor demands to execute this code. In addition, INTEGRITY’s
    support for processor-unique power management API’s allow better
    battery management for hand-held devices.

This platform seems well worth the look for wireless sensors and
gateways; portable medical devices requiring connectivity like
infustion pumps, ventilators, and vital signs monitors; and point of
care diagnostics.