MultiPort is developing a UMTS capable multimedia portable digital assistant for its immediate application in the healthcare environment. UMTS trials will be carried out in co-operation with other ACTS projects. Intermediate stages will incorporate wireless LAN and GSM trials.
So far MultiPort has produced a complete set of specifications of the different system components: User Interface, communications software, user-transparent multidatabase access software, and hardware platform. The first prototypes of the different components have been integrated into the first prototype of the MultiPort system which is being trialed in Hospital General of Manresa since November 1996.
Following the specifications produced during the first year the consortium will design progressive prototypes of the different parts of the system with increasing functionality which will be integrated and tested in continuous trials throughout the project lifetime.
MultiPort Application Software Architecture
The project provides an opportunity to ensure that the demands of PDAs are addressed by the requirements of the emerging 3rd generation communication systems (the demonstration is key to ensure that these demands are identified). Ultimately, mobile service/application providers will also benefit when UMTS is in place and the partners expect to be in good position to exploit the new technologies.
The spiralling cost of health care present a serious problem for Europe and the availability of this service and network on which it can run will provide the means to make the best use of available manpower and expertise in a healthcare environment. You can see the same argument applied to other services - police forces, transport services, and so on.
Finally, the definition of basic multimedia services for mobile PDAs in UMTS will pave the way for consumer applications and markets - in terms of service provision and demonstration which is visible to potential consumers.
Main contributions to the programme objectives:
Main Deliverable: The project main objective was the production a UMTS capable PDA in the healthcare area. Intermediate stages of the system incorporated WLAN and GSM trials. Based on the user requirements the MultiPort project has produced a complete set of specifications of the different system components: User Interface, Multidatabase Access software, Communications software, and Hardware. A first prototype of the MultiPort system was developed and evaluated by users in a real hospital environment.
Contribution to the programme
Impact: The project demonstrated the tremendous capabilities of wireless and mobile communications systems in the healthcare area (inside a hospital as well as in remote healthcare applications). The fact that the specifications were produced to be open and platform independent provides a good base for future developments.
The project is building upon existing expertise within the consortium in mobile communications; heterogeneous distributed databases; PDA design, firmware, and manufacture; and multimedia systems. The partners will develop a user-transparent multidatabase interface, demonstrating this in the area of patient records and connection between sanitary levels (primary healthcare centres and hospitals) to support for diagnosis and consultation. The PDA will be, additionally, provided with a friendly user interface for its easy assimilation by the medical community.
Communication must be adaptable to cope with varying circumstances. For example, within a hospital the communication could be via wireless LAN, while visits to patients outside the hospital could rely upon GSM. The intention is to develop, or incorporate PCMCIA based communication interfaces which would allow the seamless adaptation of the PDA for different environments and prevailing standards as UMTS develops. If PCMCIA format is found to be insufficient, or too constraining, interfaces will be developed in line with any new or emerging standards. The architecture of the PDA will be adapted to the specific UMTS requirements and on the network side an access of the databases to B-ISDN will be realised for the connection to the UMTS Base Station.
Summary of Trial
MultiPort will carry out a series of field trials to test and validate the project results. These trials will be as follows:
* Proof-Of-Principle Trial
It involves hospital indoor operation using WLAN, started June 1996 and will continue for a period of 18 months.
* Final PDA Trial
It involves both hospital indoor and outdoor operation and will be carried out during 6 months starting March 1998. GSM will be used.
* UMTS Trial
It consists of a joint demonstration with other ACTS projects. It will include both indoor and outdoor operation and will be carried out during 5 months starting September 1998.
MultiPort User Interface Screen
The key issues addressed by the MultiPort project are:
* Smoothly integrate PDAs with UMTS through the development of a flexible multiplexing and protection scheme
* Develop a user-transparent multidatabase access module
* Trial the system in the healthcare environment carrying out both in and inter-building operation
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
S10 2TN Sheffield