NBAA Convention News

Tempus adds video link to medical emergency kit

 - September 30, 2008, 11:11 AM

For medical emergencies in which only the help of a doctor will do, RDT (Booth No. 325) has introduced the Tempus IC (integrated communications) version of its in-flight response system. The new model is significantly lighter and more compact than the original Tempus 2000 system, and offers communications tools that allow additional functions such as streaming live video of patients to doctors on the ground.

Tempus IC never needs to be recalibrated, unlike the Tempus 2000 product, which had to go back to the manufacturer every 15 to 18 months. The new unit weighs about five pounds, which is approximately a quarter of the weight of the original system. RDT intends to add the capability for the Tempus IC to connect to the Internet via wireless hotspots on the ground.

According to RDT chief executive Graham Murphy, the improvements introduced with Tempus IC resulted from customer feedback over the past seven years. The UK-based company has now trained around 5,000 people to use Tempus. The system has always been designed so that it can be operated by passengers with no previous experience, with clear visual and audio instructions to guide users through each and every process. The functions are shown and operated on a daylight-readable touchscreen.

All the equipment and instructions are color-coded to be as intuitive as possible. When the medical examination is complete, the system guides users to repack the equipment and prompts them to check whether consumable items, such as thermometer covers, need to be reordered.

Input from doctors led to the addition of a glucometry function to allow them to be able to exclude diabetic coma as a possible cause for a medical emergency. The other medical tests that Tempus IC can perform are as follows: blood pressure and pulse oximetry, temperature, capnography (respiration rate) and a 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG). Physicians also requested the moving video to provide additional visual clues to help them decide whether a patient’s condition is serious enough to require that a flight be diverted so he or she can receive treatment on the ground.

Tempus IC is compatible with both new high-bandwidth in-flight communications systems and in aircraft with lower-bandwidth capability. Even the video streaming function will work with lower bandwidths, the company claims.

The unit’s built-in camera with real-time video capture and transmission uses the latest H624 video compression technology to push moving video over slower connections (around 80 kbps/sec with other communications equipment still running). The other communications options for the equipment include Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi, TriBand GSM, as well as wired Ethernet and legacy satellite phone systems. It also has a USB port to provide another way of sharing data.

The Tempus IC also boasts improved battery life at up to six hours and can be run on any main electrical power source. Given that utilization rates for business aircraft users will typically be very infrequent, the battery selected will retain almost full performance even if it is not used more than once a year.

Discreet Packaging

The equipment can be switched on while it is still in the bag and the battery life can be checked externally as well. The new Tempus IC case is much more discreet than the original packaging and looks like a generic piece of electronic equipment, such as a laptop or video camera.

The headset through which aircrew communicate with medics on the ground is a completely hands-free Bluetooth unit. It automatically recharges its battery when docked in the Tempus IC case and wakes itself up every 60 days for a top-up charge.

The equipment also features a new thermometer and glucometer developed by RDT to send readings via Bluetooth. The ECG equipment is now separate from the main unit to make it easier to handle and repack. The list price for the Tempus IC is $65,355 for orders of just one or two units. This price is less than the original Tempus 2000 due to reduced cost of some components and improved economies of scale.   

Emirates Airlines has committed to adding the Tempus IC units to its new fleet and will also be replacing its existing Tempus 2000 equipment. The first of the new units were shipped last month.

RDT has a global network operations center in London, which serves as an automatic switching center to route the data or voice signals via the most suitable available channel. This facility has full redundancy in terms of communications connectivity and electrical power supply. RDT’s patented ADR (advance data robustness) transmission system has proved to be so effective and reliable that Rockwell Collins bought a license to use it as part of one of its own cockpit systems, the company said.