Microsemi Corporation recently announced the release of a medical network radio link that can be used in a variety of implantable medical technology. The ZL70102 radio transceiver chip enables high data rate radio frequency link that provides improvements over existing technology. Traditionally, medical OEMs had to utilize inductive link technology that was placed in close proximity to the implanted device and had slow data rates. The ZL70102 transceiver chip’s wider operating range also eases the burden of remote monitoring. It can send device performance information to a base station that then forwards the information to the patient’s physician. If device issues arise, the doctor can use the RF link to adjust the device’s functions. The chip also features a sleep mode to save on battery life.
VDC expects that these kinds of implantable radio technologies will find further applications beyond human implantable technologies. Many kinds of remote monitoring equipment are likely suitable applications. But the potential of this technology is tempered by several design concerns, particularly embedded security. The consequences of a hacker gaining access to a pacemaker or similar life-sustaining technology are easy to imagine. OEMs must successfully demonstrate that this security is appropriately implemented in order for new designs to gain traction in the market. No doubt, the building of a successful platform will be rooted in the initiative of partnerships or acquisitions.
Microsemi positioned itself into the implantable medical market through its acquisition of Zarlink in October 2011. Microsemi has made several strategic acquisitions in recent times, perhaps most notably acquiring Actel, maker of SoCs, in October of 2010. The progressive expansion of Microsemi is focused on a select group of vertical markets including communications, military/aerospace, and industrial (including medical) and alternative energy. VDC expects that Microsemi will continue to acquire companies that can assist its penetration into these vertical segments going forward.