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Imaging features prominently in these devices, as real-time medical data is frequently translated into a graphical view. For example, pulse data or breathing rates often must be visible in a graph that is updated constantly.
Portability of equipment combined with portability of data are driving medical device designers and new imaging applicationsówith devices that are more efficient, more accurate than human personnel, faster in their ability for quick turn diagnostic capabilities and seamless in their information gathering. Real-time data is vital, particularly in emergency medicine and rescue services where every second counts.
When existing imaging applications must be updated and re-deployed as a smaller device, designers must avoid the need to start completely from scratch, so scalability and upgradeability are necessities from the outset.
The convenience of portability once required manufacturers to sacrifice image quality, limiting the medical diagnoses that could be made with portable ultrasound equipment. In addition, there were few options available among the standards-based embedded computing platforms that could adequately meet the complex set of harsh environmental requirements coupled with performance demands. The platforms were not small or rugged enough, lacked the right mix of integrated features, and/or did not provide a seamless migration for next-generation product revisions.
COMs (computer-on-modules) answer these challenges head-on and are taking the lead in the realm of powerful and rugged yet portable imaging devices. Designers have numerous options available in the COMs standard, including the microETXexpress and nanoETXexpress families of COM Express compatible modules (following the Type 1 and Type 2 pinouts defined by PICMG). Tapping the space- and energy-savings enabled by 45nm high-end processors, the newest COMs are meeting even higher performance-per-watt standards, making them ideal for imaging environments with high demands on data processing and/or multi-media conversion and output.