Wireless Systems Design

The Times, They Are A-Changin'

The other day, my 7-year-old daughter asked me about my first phone. Our conversation went like this: "Mom, what was your first phone like?" I replied, "Do you mean what color was it?" "No," she said, "I mean did it stand straight up or did it attach to your pants?" Obviously, she wanted to know whether my first phone was a cell phone or a cordless phone. And if it was the latter, how did it rest in its phone base?

Finally, here was a question from my daughter that I could easily and definitively answer. But then the magnitude of what she had asked really hit me. In my daughter's entire lifetime, she had never seen a standard landline phone with its handset attached to a phone base via a curly cord. For me, that realization was astounding. I began to see how wireless technology could actually become so pervasive and ubiquitous that we take it for granted.

My daughter has simply never had a reason to imagine the handset of a phone being attached to its phone base. She takes it for granted that the flexibility to walk around the house with a cordless phone or talk on the phone while at the store has always existed. This is her reality, and it is being populated more and more by the realm of wireless possibilities.

I guess what I'm getting at here is that the times are changing. The technology that may seem so commonplace to us one day soon grows obsolete. In just one generation, our perspective on what seems normal and what seems possible with technology can shift dramatically. That change took place with the traditional landline telephone. Now, it's happening to an area that is literally vital to our society: the medical profession.

Many of you may have already heard of wireless implantable medical devices. For example, such gadgets allow doctors to monitor a patient's brain waves for neurological dysfunction or facilitate the correct beating of a patient's heart. But that's just the beginning. Wireless technology is helping to revolutionize the medical industry in ways that we cannot yet imagine. That change is being felt at the academic level and in the field.

In response to this growing reality, this month's cover story is actually a special report on wireless technology in the medical profession. Our loyal readers will note that this is a marked departure from our standard cover product. Nevertheless, the change that is coming to the medical profession is so dramatic and widespread that the topic warrants a cover in and of itself. We hope you find the article both informative and useful. Please send me your thoughts at [email protected]. Or you can post your comments as part of our discussion forum at www.planetee.com.

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