OBGYN.net Conference CoverageFrom AIUM 44th Conference held in San Francisco, California - April, 2000
Dr. Ed Zabrek: "AIUM 44 is running down and I’m winding down as the Chief Technology Correspondent for OBGYN.net. I’ve been going to meeting after meeting and I think it’s time we introduce some toys from technology, they are not ultrasound based. I have my San Francisco Boudin sourdough bread here, which I’m going to take home with me but I happen to have a more than sourdough bread in here. I’m going to bring some toys out and share with you what I’ve been doing over the past several months and kind of peak your interest. Some of the stuff has been out there for a while, some of the stuff is new, and some of the stuff I can’t really talk about because I’m under non-disclosure but I’ll try to give you as much as I can in a preview.
The year 2000 and this next ten years is going to be the year of wireless devices, both stand alone and add-on. Wireless information is permeating the airwaves and I want to bring on some wireless devices here, you’ve probably seen some of them before and I want to start with the RIM pager. You might remember about a year ago I did a technology report on the RIM-950, which I’m using as my primary pager. It’s an excellent device; it has a very easy type-able keyboard. What has been added to this as an add-on software application is a company called Wolftech. Wolftech, basically, gives this pager capabilities of, I wouldn’t call it web browsing, but picking up web snippets. If you want to get instant stock information, you can track a stock portfolio, you can get sports scores and instant news, an absolutely incredible application and something that I can’t live without now. Amazingly enough this is a 2 MB device, has 2 Megs of RAM inside, and does all of my functions for me. What you can do is there’s a scroller here, I can scroll up or down, pull up my stock quotes and then interact with these quotes, again, sports scores, and things like that. I recommend you go to Wolftech’s website - www.wolftech.com and get more information on this. It’s highly recommended and if you have any interest whatsoever in where wireless technology is today, this is about as good as you’re going to get on something you can carry around on your belt
The Sprint Wireless Web (WW) (www.sprintpcs.com) has been getting a lot of commercial airtime. It uses Sprint’s wireless web enabled phones (by Motorola, Samsung, and others). With the Sprint WW, you have the ability to do pretty much what you can do on Wolftech but with a few more keystrokes, and a bit less intuition. As with Wolfetech, you can wirelessly pull up basic information from their server such as stock quotes, driving directions, sports scores, weather reports and more. It is by no means a "web browser" in the conventional sense; it instead gives you "Web snapshots" of information. (For true wireless web browsing read the section below on the "wireless Sierra card".) The Sprint WW doesn’t work quite as fast or as easily as the Wolfetech enabled RIM or Motorola 2-way pager, but if you just want to have one device and carry it around, it’s a reasonable thing to have. There are a number of other phones, you can go to the Sprint store and ask what’s wirelessly web capable and it’s probably a little bit cheaper than Wolftech because you don’t pay for the characters but it does cost you air time, and again, it’s not wireless web browsing, you’re basically getting web snippets.
Compare your local carriers for rates and information on both services, but at this time, Wolfetech gets my vote at any cost.
If you want true wireless web browsing, try Sierra’s AirCard. The wireless Sierra Card uses an antenna. It will link to any service in whatever city you’re in. Just plug it in to the PCMCIA slot of your laptop, or handheld device, pull up the antenna, and you are truly browsing on the local geographical network. For example, in San Francisco, you will see the logo for GTE San Jose. In Houston, I log onto to GTE Houston automatically, without changing any settings. I can literally browse the web wirelessly, just like on a landline. It is slow, however 19,200 baud but it’s definitely going to give "browse-ability", hypertext links and all! I can pull up OBGYN.net if I wanted to on this and browse that site. It will also work on the bigger laptop; I plug it in, (after some initial software installation, and it’s ready to go. It is rumored that by 2001, wireless broadband will be available on a similar card, with speeds of 144k. Time will tell, but keep watching this site. I will keep you posted. Microsoft’s new Pocket PC from Compaq, is about the size of a Palm Pilot, and should be available next month. This device will be able to accept a wireless web PC card and browse just like a handheld. I have tried this small PDA, and it works flawlessly. With the Pocket iPAQ can have a web browser literally that you can fit in your shirt pocket which will be live and Blue Tooth technology which is running, if you remember Blue Tooth technology, it’s wireless capable but usually at a span of 300-400 feet, certainly not web browsing but you can certainly do Intranets and in-office technology with it.
HARD CARDS for Laptops and PDA’s
One other thing, which is an extremely exciting technology, is the Caluna card, this is about a $400 item. It’s a 1 gig Type-III PCM CIA card, which works in laptops. It doesn’t work in handheld devices; however, Caluna does make a 260 Meg PCMCA Type-II card which is excellent for giving you about a $300 addition of 260 Megs. Caluna has been doing this for a while, it doesn’t require any special drivers, will work on Windows 2000 and NT, and highly recommended. I have to show you one more thing since we’re talking about card technology. This is the IBM microdrive; I’ve got it on my Compaq handheld, 340 MB. You can use an adapter and make it a Type-II card; it sells for about $500, works with PC cameras, is very, very quick, and an excellent device if you want to have a lot of versatility. Large capacity flash storage cards from Delkin (www.delkin.com) and SanDisk (www.sandisk.com) will give you another storage option for your PDA and/or laptop. Expect to find 440meg-1.1 gig type II flash cards in the next 6 months. (SanDIsk’s 440meg device is currently available.) These will also work on the new Compaq Pocket IPAQ mentioned above.
Laptop computers and cases for these devices.
The Compaq Presario 1900 series is my favorite full sized, lightweight laptop with a DVD add-on module. The 1900 series is modular and lightweight The included "wedge" adds the DVD and a floppy drive. When traveling, you have the option to leave this in your suitcase, and lighten your load to a mere 5 lbs. with a full 13.1 in beautiful, crisp color screen! Current configuration of the 1900 sports a Pentium III 600. Depending on processor speed and memory, it sells for $2,000-3000.00, which is a bargain for this feature laden desktop replacement.
The last thing I want to talk about I don’t have with me but it’s a new Fujitsu machine called a Fujitsu B2130. This is a 2 ½ lb. laptop that’s touch screen, great for medical applications if you have medical software and you want to do your touch screen right on board. It’s DVD capable with ADDONICS PCMCIA/USB DVD player (www.addonics.com). The B2130 extremely small and rugged, and for a small laptop I think it’s the best one on the market today. It currently runs a 400 MHz Celeron processor and I have a 128 Megs of RAM.
I would be remiss to not talk a little bit about voice dictation-voice recognition technologies. Lernout and Hauspie, I think, last week bought Dragon systems and those were the two main players with voice technology and dictation. I will be getting new medical software from L& H in the next several weeks, which deals with medical software dictation. It’s suppose to be very, very good and more powerful. I guess Microsoft is a major investor in L&H and probably by the time you see Windows 2002 or whatever rendition of Windows comes out in the next several years, the L&H voice engine will be in an integral part integrated into the operating system for both navigation and pretty much anything else you could think of doing with voice. So to rap it up, I think the new millennium certainly brings new and exciting technologies that I’ll be looking at and reporting on in the future. We’re actually changing the name of the website from Tech-Talk to Fresh-Tech. I try to get things in advance of general release and publication, and hopefully, as the new millennium springs up look for the buzz words of wireless and voice recognition."