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Always-on gets regulatory fast track

A system based on what I call Always-On technology, using a wireless network as an application platform, is on its way to fast-track government approval.

Zigbee network connections from JennicA system based on what I call Always-On technology, using a wireless network as an application platform, is on its way to fast-track government approval. (Picture from Jennic, a Zigbee system maker.)

The system is called Oxy-Alert, and it's an adjunct to the OxyView, an in-line oxygen monitor by Ingen Technologies of Yucaipa, Calif. The company says the FDA will make the device exempt from the 510(k) pre-market notification process.

This means it could be available through InvaCare, a major health appliance distributor, by December.

The reason for this is that Oxy-Alert is simply a wireless Zigbee chip which sends an alert, through a WiFi connection and then the Internet, when the underlying OxyView device shows a problem. The Zigbee standard is known as 802.15.4.

The original point of the OxyView was to let patients see the status of their oxygen systems. This is merely an enhancement.

But it's an important enhancement which enables the OxyView to reach new markets, where patients are unable to check the monitor. This should also lead more care facilities and, perhaps, homeowners to install WiFi routers and Internet connections in patient care areas.

This is also important for Zigbee providers, who have until now been most active in industrial control markets. Health controllers will bring Zigbee into more homes, and could make this a mainstream technology.

By using wireless networks to extend the reach of control monitors, you sell more monitors and make them more effective. So this is a real win-win.