Engineering the Wireless Hospital: Testing Wi-Fi Functionality in Medical Devices

August 26, 2013, 8:42 am

By: Natalie Sheerer, Marketing Specialist

Applications on many medical devices require secure and persistent network connections, because a disruption of even a tenth of a second (100 milliseconds) can cause a failure in the transmission of a continuous stream of data. Hospitals present many challenges to maintaining a reliable Wi-Fi connection. Radio frequency (RF) transmissions between the medical device and an access point (AP), may be absorbed by lead walls or human bodies, redirected by metal objects and surfaces, or disrupted by sources of RF interference. Sources of RF interference that can cause disruption in connection can come from a variety of devices in the 2.4 GHz band including Wi-Fi devices, Zigbee devices, Bluetooth devices, baby monitors, and cordless phones.

To ensure reliable connectivity, a Wi-Fi radio that is embedded in a medical device must be tested thoroughly. The key Wi-Fi characteristics that must be tested for include:

  1. RF Performance
  2. Interoperability with popular Wi-Fi infrastructures
  3. Security
  4. Mobility

Medical device manufacturers should choose embedded Wi-Fi radios from manufacturers who have proven test methods that thoroughly account for the key Wi-Fi characteristics listed above. Laird Technologies will soon be publishing a white paper that goes into further detail on these topics. Keep an eye out for Testing Wi-Fi Functionality in Medical Devices which will be available on this page this fall.