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The heart has been a symbol of human emotion and complexity since before Common Era. The ancient Egyptians believed that the heart ruled the way people thought, their wisdom and who they were. The ancient Greeks thought that it was the heart, and not the brain, that controlled logic and emotion. It was in the Middle Ages, when Valentine’s Day gained popularity, that the concept of romantic love became associated with the broken heart.
A few weeks ago, as I underwent eye surgery, I realized that I was much more worried about the outcome than about the operation itself. Why was that? Given the numerous problems caused by poor eyesight since I was a kid, I had difficulties imagining a world that wasn’t hazy and out of focus, a world in which I would see sharp outlines and well-defined silhouettes. As for surgery, I had total confidence in the skills of my ophthalmologist. I trust him.
Healthcare is undergoing nothing short of a revolution with key advances in long-established technologies and major development in new areas which all depend on electrotechnology.
The vision of the future sees robots doing a number of things that humans don’t want to do, such as vacuuming. Though the use of artificial intelligence is not yet widespread, robots are moving into sectors that seemed unlikely even a decade ago; for example, assisting in surgical procedures. IECQ, the IEC Quality Assessment System for Electronic Components, helps to ensure the reliability of components used in any robots that care for us.
Since 2007, IECEE (IEC System of Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components) has been managing the risks surrounding medical electrical equipment. Its task has become more important as technological changes and enhancements have radically increased the complexity of the sector.
The number of CB Certificates issued by members of the IECEE (IEC System of Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components) keeps increasing each year (more than 80 000 in 2013). Add to that the successful and fruitful collaboration with international organizations, the outreach to developing countries and the introduction of new services and product categories and you have confirmation that IECEE is THE global certification system for electrical and electronic products.
Medical care rests on trust. Trust between patients and medical staff and trust of the latter the equipment they use for examining and treating patients. IEC International Standards are developed specifically to ensure medical electrical equipment and systems are safe to operate, for the well-being of patients and users alike.
The medical devices industry encompasses a wide range of items and technologies, from the simplest wound dressing to highly sophisticated diagnostic and therapeutic equipment. Globally, the sector is worth more than USD 360 billion (2014) and is expected to grow steadily in the future.
Software is often an integral part of medical device technology and trends point to its growing importance in it. A consolidated version of IEC 62304, Medical device software– Software life cycle processes, has just been published. This International Standard provides a framework of life cycle processes with activities and tasks necessary for the safe design and maintenance of medical device software.
Most people are familiar with the use of biometric identification systems – from fingerprints to voice recognition to iris scans – as elements of sophisticated security systems. The field of medical biometrics, however, is focused more on the collection of personal medical data and its use in diagnosis, research, and medical services development, rather than on security and identification.
With 166 countries in the IEC family, more than 15 000 technical experts who work in standards development, hundreds of CBs (Certification Bodies) and TLs (Test Laboratories) in the IEC CA (Conformity Assessment) Systems, there is no shortage of stories to be told within the IEC community. In 2016, as in previous years, the e-tech editorial team will be reaching out to you to get your story.
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is the computer-controlled sequential layering of materials to create three‑dimensional shapes. Originally developed more than 30 years ago, it is only in recent years that applications of the technology have expanded in fields as diverse as aerospace, medicine and dentistry, construction, the automotive industry and clothing and footwear.
The IEC is mourning the unexpected death of a longtime leader in the world of international electromedical standardization. Michael Schmidt, 65, died suddenly on 17 February while on vacation with his wife Sylvia in Florida, USA.
Robotic‑assisted surgery involves a surgeon using a computer‑assisted electromechanical device to carry out complex and technically demanding medical procedures on a patient. The value of surgical robotic tools lies in their role as machines that extend the capabilities and precision of the surgeon, rather than ones that replace human skills.
Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), the ability of electronic and electrical systems or components to work reliably and safely when they are close together is crucial in many domains, in particular in the medical environment.
Recent years have witnessed a rapidly growing volume of healthcare-related data being collected from a variety of sources that include patients’ records, and information provided through home monitoring or wearable smart devices.
People live longer today than ever before. There are however major variations in life expectancy between continents and countries. Even within a given country, there may be differences between wealthier and poorer regions.
Imagine contact lenses which proactively monitor the blood glucose levels of your tears and transfer that information to a doctor’s mobile device, or an intelligent management system for asthma, lower back issues or a smart health patch which keeps tabs on a patient’s vitals? Some of these devices are being developed, while some are already in use.
In an increasingly connected world, instances of cyberattacks targeting objects, systems, institutions and infrastructure are growing exponentially. The sophistication, severity and impact of these attacks vary greatly according to the targets but can have catastrophic consequences if critical systems are affected. Various IEC Technical Committees (TCs) and Subcommittees (SCs), and SCs of ISO/IEC JTC 1, the Joint Technical Committee set up by the IEC and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) develop International Standards to protect against these attacks.
From the smartphone alarm first thing in the morning to switching off the lights last thing at night, many products and systems in our daily lives run off electricity. We use the hairdryer, washing machine, stove, get on and off transport and walk through automated doors at the office, take the elevator, fire up the computer and purchase items online, expecting that everything will work reliably and safely.
Each year with the Thomas Edison Award, the IEC pays tribute to members of the IEC Family for their distinguished work and commitment to improving the safety, compatibility and energy efficiency of electrical products and systems. The Thomas Edison Award is in the spirit of Thomas Alva Edison, one of the greatest inventors in history. He developed a system of electric power generation and distribution which was a major development in the modern industrialized world.
To deal with Active Assisted Living (AAL) issues, the IEC has established a Systems Committee, IEC SyC AAL. This SyC has the role of promoting safety, security, privacy and cross-vendor interoperability in the use of AAL systems and services, and of fostering standardization which boosts their usability and accessibility. Its role and scope are constantly being expanded.
The term "3D printing", also known as additive manufacturing, originally referred to a process that deposits a binder material onto a powder bed with inkjet printer heads layer by layer. Recently, it has been used increasingly to include a broader set of additive manufacturing techniques, such as directed energy deposition, material extrusion, material jetting, powder bed fusion, sheet lamination and photopolymerization.
Take the 170 countries in the IEC family, the 20 000 technical experts who work in standards development, the many certification bodies (CBs) and test laboratories (TLs) in the IEC Conformity Assessment (CA) Systems, and add to the mix the rapid pace at which technologies are evolving today and you have hundreds, if not thousands of stories that can be told within the IEC community.
The IEC Young Professionals (YP) Programme brings together upcoming expert engineers, technicians and managers from all over the world, who aspire to become more involved in the IEC and help shape the future of international standardization and conformity assessment in the field of electrotechnology. In this issue of e-tech, we introduce the three 2017 Leaders of the IEC Young Professionals Programme who were elected by their peers in Vladivostok, Russia, during the IEC General Meeting.
In the last decade the healthcare sector, which had until then been mainly in the hands of professionals, has seen a major shift. People now keep tabs on their diet, activity and health with the help of dedicated smart devices and apps. Home healthcare devices and equipment allow patients with chronic conditions to monitor and share their vitals with clinicians on a regular basis.
From robots to wearables, various technology breakthroughs are helping the elderly population better cope with the many inconveniences associated with old age. IEC International Standards help these new devices to perform safely and meet the requirements of older people.
A new standard has been published, IEC 63077, that specifies the process for ensuring the performance and safety of refurbished medical imaging equipment.