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Device profile: BIAC Portable Muscle Stimulators

Jul 7, 2004 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 10 views

Brime Italia used Linux as the embedded software platform in a family of portable muscle stimulator devices that it developed for BIAC Srl. The BIAC Portable Medical Electric Muscle Stimulators integrate color touchscreen displays, wireless networking, and medical sensor interfaces. The family comprises three models that target the home health, fitness, and physical therapy markets, respectively.

BIAC's Portable Medical Electric Muscle Stimulator
(Click to enlarge)

The BIAC muscle stimulators are battery-powered devices are based on Intel XScale processors. They offer six channels for therapeutic electrical stimulation, as well as a high-resolution color graphic interface with a touch screen, a multimedia card, Bluetooth connectivity, stereo sound, and optional analog and digital inputs for bio-medical sensors.

BIAC is currently selling the muscle stimulation devices in three versions. The “Action101” is a basic model for consumers; the “Energy101” incorporates more advanced features and targets fitness and beauty centers; and the “Therapy101” includes all features and is marketed toward the rehabilitation market.

Brime claims that the devices are the first portable medical devices to integrate electrical stimulation, data acquisition from bio-medical sensors, and closed-loop control in a single instrument. The devices also offer a user-friendly graphic interface and sophisticated features for healthcare professionals, the company claims.

Why Linux?

Brime says it moved away from a proprietary operating system and embraced Linux because of Linux's real-time responsiveness, the availability of commercial-grade Linux software platforms, and lower overall development costs.

“From the start, our project was cost driven,” says Brime Software Project Leader Marco Raimondi. “We went through most of the popular proprietary embedded operating systems, but they had high development costs and expensive royalties.”

“We decided to use Linux,” adds Brime Hardware Project Leader Gabriele De Natale, “And [we] picked MontaVista Linux because it had great real-time support and was the only Linux development platform, at the time, which fully supported the Intel XScale processor family.”

MontaVista says that its Linux Professional Edition targets more than 25 processors from nine leading architectures, and supports more than 100 boards. Pro also comes with DevRocket, an integrated development environment that the company says offers “state-of-the-art” development tools.

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