Motorola Solutions releases smartphone-like healthcare devices

By: Neil Versel | Nov 7, 2013        

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Motorola HealthcareMotorola Solutions, the enterprise communications vendor created when the former Motorola Inc. split in two in 2011, has released two mobile devices designed specifically for healthcare use.

The Schaumburg, Ill.-based company on Tuesday announced the general availability of the MC40-HC, a touch-screen, smartphone-like mobile computer for healthcare environments and the SB1-HC, a wearable, thin-client communications unit that Motorola Solutions is calling a “smart badge.”

The MC40-HC runs a variation of the Android operating system with Extensions (Mx) enterprise security enhancements from Motorola Solutions. Both include integrated barcode scanners and are built for infection control and a longer life than consumer smartphones, according to Amanda Honig, a Motorola Solutions product marketing manager, plus the batteries are meant to last entire work shifts.

“We’ve tested these with a variety of harsh cleansers,” Honig told MobiHealthNews.

Indeed, the release versions of the two devices are slightly different from prototypes Motorola Solutions displayed at the annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference in March. At HIMSS, the MC40 had a pebbled back panel. “It’s a wonderful place for germs and dirt to gather,” said Dan Chamberlain, senior manager for North America healthcare marketing. Now, the back of the device is smooth.

The MC40 also runs Android 4.1 Jellybean, an update from version 2.3, called Gingerbread, which was on the prototype.

Both feature push-to-talk communications, with the button integrated into the device housing. On the SB1, the push-to-talk button previously had been an add-on magnetic part that could be a germ factory, Chamberlain said.

Neither the MC40 nor the SB1 have cellular chips, as they are intended for enterprise Wi-Fi networks, but they both can be tied to telephone numbers for VoIP calls or text messaging. “It saves on costs,” Chamberlain said, since the devices do not require installation of pricey in-house cellular antennas or use up allotments of wireless minutes.

The MC40 in particular is intended for nurses as an alternative to bring-your-own-device and dedicated wireless voice handsets, according to Chamberlain. “It’s much better suited for their use than a typical consumer cell phone,” he said.

“The SB1 is for employees that don’t need a full-fledged phone,” Honig added. This smaller device, designed for non-clinical healthcare staff, has a 3-inch e-ink display and support for HTML5 apps.

Though one of the phones runs a version of Google’s Android OS, Motorola Solutions is distinct from Motorola Mobility, which Google bought following the Motorola Inc. breakup in 2011.