EMS providers arriving on scene at a local gym may soon be greeted by a new level of first responder that presents them with the patient’s heart rate or blood glucose level. The new iPhone 4S is the first mobile phone that offers its own low-power Bluetooth capability that allows it to “talk to a new class of wireless devices," such as watches and heart-rate monitors.
Featuring a small “button cell” battery currently standard in many watches, the Bluetooth chip allows the mobile phone to connect to, and “communicate” with, other devices. The tiny battery source will last for several years because the chip uses so little power.1
The small devices that will be able to communicate with the Bluetooth chip devices will be labeled "Bluetooth Smart" and the devices that carry the chip, such as the iPhone and other standard Bluetooth devices will be labeled "Bluetooth Smart Ready." Bluetooth Smart was developed by Nokia, which initially called it "Wibree." But, in 2007, Nokia yielded the technology to the Bluetooth SIG to spread its adoption.
And this is just the start of the mobile technology race by manufacturers. Soon, other devices will get smaller, be worn on the wrist like the futuristic two-way wrist radio worn by cartoon detective Dick Tracy in the 70s & 80s, and offer more services that will assist EMS responders.
• Casio of Japan is set to release a watch in late December that's Bluetooth smart and enable the wearer to link to a smartphone. The wrist watch will beep and vibrate to alert the wearer whenever they have new e-mails and text messages.
• Nordic Semiconductor, a Norwegian company, will soon place Bluetooth Smart chips into belts that will measure the wearer's heart rate and relay the data to a smart phone.
• A few laptops are already “Bluetooth Smart” ready. The new Motorola Mobility Razr, a touch screen smart phone that doesn't have much in common with the old clamshell Razrs, is due to be released soon will also be Bluetooth Smart Ready,
• Other possible “Bluetooth Smart” devices are in the works including glucose sensors for diabetics and automatic-automation sensors that could, for instance, tell a phone if all the windows in the home are closed.
In addition to these send/receive Bluetooth advances, the new "Siri," app that allows iPhone 4S users to ask their phone questions and get back accurate answers should serve as important resource for rescuers who need information on such things as drug interactions and calculations, the weight of a ton of dirt or bulldozer entrapping a patient, or the location of the closest rental center, where they can obtain portable generators and lights during a major emergency scene.
You have to wonder how long before manufacturers in the public safety market will figure out how to integrate and send/receive fire fighter locations in structures, CAD information and dispatch alerts to crew, rehab vital signs from personnel in encapsulated suits, and other important scene functions to and from "Bluetooth Smart" wrist devices, belts and SCBA straps.