My wife and I recently had a new baby boy (our second; thanks! =). At the hospital, I couldn’t help noticing just how primitive much of the equipment in use is by modern standards. Of course, from the point of view of the hospital staff this stuff is positively state-of-the-art! But as an electronics designer, I know better.
Take for example the fetal heart monitor. The state-of-the-art features include that the doctors and nurses can simultaneously monitor up to nine fetal heartbeats in laboring women from one PC screen–from wherever they are on the floor. The hopelessly outdated reality is that the sensor itself is constantly losing the heartbeat; one nurse must actively attend each laboring woman simply to move the sensor around.
What a pain for a mom-to-be! Here she is in some of the worst discomfort/pain of her life. She’s thankful there is such a system as it’s reassuring that a professional is keeping tabs on the stress level of the baby insider her during all this. But then every 5-10 minutes the nurse is climbing all over her to move the sensor around until it can “lock onto” the baby’s heartbeat again.
Better idea (free to a good home): how about a sensor “belt” with an array of heartbeat pickups (simple mics?) and an attached embedded computer. The computer could simply monitor all of the mics and route the strongest signal up to the printer and network.
Even better idea: make this belt contain the wireless broadcast feature–instead of attaching it to a five pound box on the IV cart.
What is your great product idea?