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Monday, March 21, 2011

The Next Generation Health Platform

Do you remember the world before... 
  • 8" floppy drives?
  • 14" hard disks?
  • email?
  • desktop computers?
  • bag-phones?
  • luggables?
  • twisted pair?
  • cell-phones?
  • HTML and HTTP?
  • CD-R/W?
  • T-cons?
  • XML?
  • broadband?
  • Screen Sharing?
  • WiFi?
  • laptops?
  • USB?
  • flat panel displays?
  • DVD-R?
  • VOIP and Skype?
  • 3G?
  • Twitter and Facebook?

How did those technologies change your life?

I had a dream this morning having to do with EclipseiPads, and Healthcare.  Yesterday I got a sermon about how new technology (netbooks and iPhones) were enabling people to avoid being "in the moment" with others who were in the same place at the same time.  Recently I got a new smart phone.  I've been thinking about getting an iPad 2.  While watching TV at home last night with my family we saw the ad for the AT&T Laptop Dock for Motorola ATRIX 4G.

We are in the middle of a major platform shift.  The last major shift was to the wireless laptop, and that wasn't all that big a deal from the developer perspective.  This next one is about as big as the simultaneous introduction of the IBM PC, the MacIntosh, and the bag-phone.  It will have a tremendous impact on the software to be developed in the next decade.

The new shift clearly includes 4G cellular technology, touch screens, LCD video cameras, multi-core processors and semiconductor storage.  Voice recognition will probably become more prevalent as well, although I'm not seeing signs of that yet.  This new technology will make it easier to be "in the moment" with others who aren't in the same space as you

It's not yet clear where the new platform is going, or who will win.  Will it be Apple?  Android?  Someone else? What will the OS be?  ? Apple's iOS? Google's Android or Chrome OS?   What will the application development environment look like?  What new languages will I have to Learn?  HTML5?  Flash?  Will the applications use XML or JSON or will it even matter?

What will the new world bring?  How will your legacy applications respond?  Will they simple be re-skinned or will they be completely renewed to take advantage of all of the features of the new technology?  What standards should you be looking for in this new technology?

Here's my short list of must-haves:

  • Mini-USB
  • Mini-HDMI
  • Micro-SD
Now, you can get USB, MicroSD/SD and HDMI adapters for the iPad 2, but they require dongles.  I hate dongles, and I already carry a bag full of standard cables.  I'm not happy about how proprietary the Apple products are, but given their popularity I may need to have one anyway.

Some things to think about for the new platform.
  • Security - Smaller devices are easier to lose or be stolen.  They need to have encryption built into  storage, and strong password protection or biometric authentication to access the device.  Networking via 4G and WiFi needs to support encryption, firewalls and anti-virus software.  It won't be long before we see viruses targeted towards some of the newer unlocked or jail-broken platforms.  Locking down applications and configuration is common for corporate laptops but not so much for telephones.  IT departments need to start looking at this.  How often did you back up your phone?
  • Cloud Computing - A lot of these devices will be working in the cloud rather than performing local computing.  Organizations that plan on using these devices as client workstations will need to think more about their private or public cloud infrastructures.  That also includes networking.  Does your WiFi reach where these devices will be used?
  • UI designs will continue to advance on these platforms.  Developers need to be careful about early platform lock-in though, as most of the advances seem to be built into the platform, rather than the development environment.


  1. It won't be too long before:

    1) All device interfaces are wireless, e.g., like Bluetooth on steroids.
    2) Sensory interfaces are made unnecessary, .e.g, direct wireless CNS connections.
    3) Computing devices are wearable prosthetics.
    4) The off-switch is eliminated.

  2. I look forward to the day when the on/off switch is eliminated. That way I will be able to continue to read or play games on aircraft.

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