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Minneapolis Firm Playing Key Role in Electronic Product Design, Engineering, and Manufacturing for Medical Industry
Electronic Product Design

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.--Today, medical markets require highly regulated services and products in a market environment that has ever shorter time-to-market needs. LOGIC, a product development and manufacturing company based in Minneapolis, strives to meet these needs with a team focus that includes technology partners like Texas Instruments. The two companies earlier this year released the ZoomTM Medical OMAP35x Development Kit and companion System on Modules (SoMs), which use TI's OMAP35x processor and are intended to provide product developers with a quick, cost-effective, and compact way to design and produce medical, industrial, and other embedded applications.

"Texas Instrument dual core processors, specifically the OMAP 35xx family, for which LOGIC has done a development kit targeted at the medical markets, provide the processing resources that medical products need for simultaneous user applications, communications, and/or device control," states Scott Nelson, executive vice president and chief technology officer for LOGIC.

Medical product companies can use the development kit to easily develop sophisticated integrated medical devices with advanced graphical user interface (GUI), smart and real-time physioLOGICal processing, and wired and wireless connectivity options for patient monitoring and data logging applications. This is possible due to a low-cost, highly flexible software development environment, LOGIC says, and because the SoM design provides rapid manufacturing to help avoid additional trials or product releases.

"The integrated circuit innovations empower customers to make advanced medical devices that are more flexible, affordable, and accessible," said Srik Gurrapu, marketing and business development manager, Low-Power Medical Processors, TI, in a statement announcing the introduction. "The SoM module, based on the OMAP35x platform, will help medical customers quickly begin development and take advantage of a unique combination of high performance and very low power consumption. Having the same SoM module in the development kit greatly reduces development time investment and risk for medical customers."

Kurt Larson, product marketing manager for LOGIC, expects the OMAP35x SoM to bring major benefits to the medical and other embedded markets. "Since the OMAP35x processors are based on high-performance, low-power ARM processors, customers can realize significant gains in horsepower and peripheral functionality, even within the tightest power constraints," he stated.

LOGIC provides product design, engineering, and electronic manufacturing services, and is a major supplier of low-cost development kits, SoMs, and single-board computers that enable customers to control costs, reduce risk, and accelerate time to market. According to Nelson, the company is able to leverage its design experience from the consumer space with the specialized skills of its manufacturing team. LOGIC adheres to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and has an EMS facility that is ISO 13485 certified. "We have the equipment, processes, and people to provide a complete manufacturing solution," he says. "These services vary per customer, from the building of boards to complete electronics, system assembly, and shipping the product to the end customer."

The company has worked with Medical Education Technologies, Inc. (METI), a designer and manufacturer of human patient simulators used in medical training, to reduce costs and obsolescence issues associated with METI's technology. Working with METI's team, LOGIC designed a Universal Simulation Engine that was flexible enough to be used in a wide range of patient simulators. The company also provided electrical and software engineering and manufacturing of electronic components. One of its key contributions was providing an embedded solution--a System on Module (SoM) for final manufacturing and a development kit for application development--that allowed for future equipment upgrades. The new simulation engine, which includes 24 simultaneous audio channels, features a system architecture that reduced costs by 40%, diminished the potential for obsolescence, and expanded the product's capabilities.

In addition to building the Universal Simulation Engine for the Human Patient Simulator, LOGIC designed and built the LOGIC Card Engine that resides on the USE. The company also integrates the USE board in it sub-assembly. The LOGIC Card Engine platform, used to facilitate easier application development, was paired with a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) to handle real-time operations, such as audio channels, ADCs, CACs, motor control, and I/O.

"The Card Engine supports the Linux operating system," Nelson wrote in an email to Design-2-Part Magazine. "The use of Linux facilitates more feature-rich application software while making it easier to change and upgrade than in previous systems. FPGA integration maintains real-time control and management of the system while simplifying and 'slowing down' application SW requirements."

LOGIC also architected a communications interface between the FPGA and card engine to allow the Linux application to handle audio and other real-time functions with simple application programming interfaces (APIs). "The FPGA handles all real time functions and control with programmable hardware," Nelson explained. "The software platform then has simple programming interfaces that make calling and controlling the real-time controls much simpler for the software team.

"METI is a good example of how LOGIC applies different expertise in the various disciplines and provides a complete solution with the integration across the products group, the design and engineering group, all the way through to the manufacturing and fulfillment teams," Nelson summarized.

Today, the design of products for the medical industry often reflects contemporary issues, like wireless technology integration and green design. LOGIC addresses a number of challenges when designing wireless functionality into medical devices, including reliability issues that can be more critical than for other wireless applications. This can require the use of non-standard carrier frequencies and protocols, which are different, for example, from 2.4 GHz, WiFi, Bluetooth, and Zigbee, according to Nelson. "Frequency usage regulations differ from country to country, so a customer's eventual markets must be considered in order to avoid a redesign when a new national market is opened up." In addition, Nelson says, patient confidentiality regulations (HIPAA) require that patient data be kept private. Efforts must therefore be made to ensure that data sent over wireless links are encrypted, or at least not traceable back to a specific patient.

"We have a green practice team now looking at various design issues and certifications surrounding Green design," says Nelson. "LOGIC has practiced several aspects of green design for many years. One example is our compliance and experience with ROHS. We have also accomplished green design through our efforts to minimize component count and power for all customer designs. This is an example where green design practice is synergistic with normal product design for profitability." 

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