By: Sherri Douville, CEO & Board Member at Medigram
For our collaborators not recently working deeply in the technical domain; we have compiled below a glossary, or index of foundational technical topics for clinical IoT and mobile computing in medicine. Common Terms Required to Know in Technical Development of Clinical IoT are the following with links below: Bits & Bytes, Central Processing Unit, Chips, Data, Embedded systems, Physical layer of computing, RAM, ROM, TrustZone, Processors, and Embedded Computer Systems.
Bits & Bytes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPtiULeSkbc
Central processing unit (CPU): Chips (background in this instance for smartphones leveraging TrustZone as a product feature example) https://www.wired.com/insights/2011/10/arms-cortex-a7/
DATA: How bits become data explainer video: https://www.khanacademy.org/computing/computer-science/computers-and-internet-code-org/how-computers--work/v/khan-academy-and-codeorg-binary-data
2:52 how the binary number system works
4:04 how computers handle words we perceive/read
Embedded systems background: https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Embedded_Systems/Embedded_Systems_Introduction
Physical layer of computing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OSI_model
System on a Chip: https://www.iotone.com/term/systems-on-a-chip-soc/t454
To Understand Processors, Memory, & Cores: You Need to Understand Bits & Bytes. Need a bits and bytes refresher? Good 5 minute video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPtiULeSkbc
What are embedded computer systems?
“Some of the embedded systems we use every day control the menu system on television, the timer in a microwave oven, a cell phone, an MP3 player or any other device with some amount of intelligence built-in. In fact, recent poll data shows that embedded computer systems currently outnumber humans in the USA.”
Both a computer (including as a handheld “smartphone”) & an embedded system are types of computers by definition. Though both share similarities in terms of components including but not limited to: Processors, RAM, ROM, and other peripherals, they have some major differences that we should consider.
image credit: New Era Electronics
What is the Arm TrustZone (as example since we do not recommend vendors as part of the standard)
Arm TrustZone is a security technology that begins in the hardware of the Arm processor chip, which is the basis for secure boot.
“Arm TrustZone is a system-wide approach to an embedded security option for the ARM Cortex-based processor systems. Cortex-based cores are used in everything from microcontrollers (MCUs) to high-performance processors. Arm TrustZone is an embedded security technology that starts at the hardware level by creating two environments that can run simultaneously on a single core: a secure world and a not-as-secure world (non-secure world). Increasingly, developers need to secure systems beginning at the lowest levels, at the physical layer, which includes the boot up process, as hacking can target the boot up process.” https://www.microcontrollertips.com/embedded-security-brief-arm-trustzone-explained/
HIGHLY RECOMMEND: Developing literacy by studying this explanation for the physical layer.
By Stack Overflow: Evolution of Embedded Systems and Mobile Phones: Is There Overlap?
“Generally an embedded system is one placed into operation for a specific, narrow purpose, and lacking the kind of general purpose user interfaces you would find on an ordinary desktop/laptop.
That is not to say though that an embedded system cannot have these — I’ve seen test equipment such as network analyzers running desktop operating systems, with mouse/keyboard ports. One could probably hack one of those to use it for general purpose computing, but it would not be cost effective.
Going the other way, you can take a general purpose computer and shove it into an embedded application. However, systems optimized for embedded use may be more robust, support better real-world I/O (often retaining legacy ports), and use parts expected to be available over longer lifetimes than used in commodity PCs (if one fails, you want to be able to replace it with the exact same thing).
Often embedded systems are smaller — 8 bit processors (even 4-bit or serial-core historically) with limited memory; though 32 bit cores such as the arm family are now inexpensive and commonplace. Nor are tens to hundreds of megabytes of memory unknown.
Older cell phones would have a lot in common with embedded systems, but rather obviously contemporary smartphones are catching up in power and versatility, though still often constrained by user interface. Software wise some “think small” habits endure — for example, Android’s compact bionic C library and toolbox shell have similar design goals to embedded C libraries and busybox. In other ways though, expansive resource-gobbling user experiences are now the norm on phones. Toss tablets based on the same processors and accessorized with keyboard into the mix, run a kernel designed originally for desktop computers on them, and the real difference is between UI software stacks designed to run segregated “apps” on a touch interface, vs one designed to run more traditional programs.” https://stackoverflow.com/a/11425964
By: Sherri Douville CEO & Board Member at Medigram, Inc. https://www.linkedin.com/in/sdouville/