Wired may have recently waxed poetic about Apple’s iPad being the physician’s device of choice, but the Hewlett-Packard Developer Blog writes about a couple of Stanford University researchers who have chosen to march to the beat of a different drummer by building their MRI data analysis software based on HP’s ill-fated TouchPad tablet.
For those of you unfamiliar with the TouchPad, it was Hewlett-Packard’s attempt at an “iPad Killer” and the firm’s entry into the tablet device industry. It was released in July of this year, but was officially discontinued after less than seven weeks on the market. While its plastic enclosure and lower cost components couldn’t compete with the iPad’s aluminum casing, the TouchPad’s shortcomings turned out to work in its favor around sensitive MRI equipment:
The TouchPad, a device primarily constructed of plastics and minimal glues was an excellent choice to start with. Dr. Holbrook made some warranty-voiding adjustments to his TouchPad, removing metallic components such as the vibration motor and speakers. While we at HP normally don’t encourage this, we were excited by Dr. Holbrook’s work and brought in TouchPad hardware engineers to assist in the modification process. With this, he had a minimally metallic device that could be used almost anywhere within the magnet room.
With a modified TouchPad now able to be used in the room during the procedure, the researchers developed a special suite of apps built on the TouchPad’s WebOS platform to view and manipulate MRI data in real time. The TouchPads also interfaced wirelessly with a PC server and the controls of the MRI scanner itself, which allows a single technician to run a test and view the results without ever stepping away from the scanner. Another app, which could be run simultaneously on the TouchPad, allows technicians to view respiratory data of the patient being scanned.
Perhaps this goes to show that a tech product isn’t truly dead as long as it still serves a useful purpose!
From the HP Developer Center: MRI and the TouchPad