The new Intel Health Monitor allows patients to video conference with doctors. It also provides friendly motivational messages.  (Source: Intel)
Intel devises another crafty way to get inside your house or workplace

Intel is known best for its microprocessors, as it currently owns around 80 to 90 percent of the market.  However, the company has made efforts to diversify into graphics and even more exotic offerings.  Around the lines of its more unique offerings, Intel has a medical products division that's becoming increasingly active.

Its latest product Intel Health Guide won FDA approval on Thursday, paving its way to being offered to nursing homes and care centers across the country.  The new device collects vital signs and allows for videoconferencing with remote parties -- such as nurses or doctors.  Intel says that the device may see strong consumer adoption as well, among the chronically ill, who could use it to better remotely interface with their doctors.

Weighing in at 8 lbs and with a footprint the size of a small laptop, the device sits comfortably on a countertop.  The device comes equipped with a 40 GB hard drive for storage options.  It comes with a wide variety of features, including vital-sign collection, patient reminders, and educational content. 

The device is no Dr. House.  While it does support modest diagnostic capabilities it offers a more congenial bedside manner.  In fact, perhaps its most entertaining feature is its delivery of cheerful motivational messages to the patient.

While Intel may have turned its back on Windows Vista, don't expect to see an Apple or Linux OS driving this new piece of hardware -- it's Windows XP exclusive.  The device offers wireless and wired interfaces to a broad array of medical monitors.  It can be hooked up to glucose or blood-pressure monitors.

Doctors can remotely schedule times to collect vitals, or patients can do it themselves.  After the vitals are collected, they are sent encrypted over broadband to a remote database.  This setup ensures privacy of the personal information.

Louis Burns, vice president and general manager of Intel's Digital Health Group was pleased with the FDA approval.  He states, "This is an important product that will improve the state and cost of health care around the world.  We envision a wide range of usage models, not only chronic conditions such as CHF and diabetes, but also programs for health and wellness management at home."

It was not an easy approval process either.  The Intel Health Guide PHS6000 was only approved after years of trials in the U.S. and the UK.  Now at last, the device is coming to market.  Intel has not yet announced a price, but it has stated that it will start shipping the units in late 2008 or early 2009.

Intel is just one of many major companies looking to diversify into the ever-growing health care field.  IBM and Google, which recently launched Google health, are among the others.  Many smaller companies are also leading the way, such as T2 Biosystems, which plans to deploy a handheld scanner, which can test for cancer, specific bacterial infections, and other health problems by 2010.

"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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