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About the jfish Project

How does it work?

The jfish project aims to leverage the ubiquity of low-cost yet powerful semiconductors, free software/open source development tools, and the coming revolution of personal fabrication, to improve worldwide access to safe and reliable anaesthetic monitoring. Affordable mass-produced microcontrollers allow the use of specialised electronic components to be minimised in the design of jfish devices, as the majority of signal processing is able to be performed in software alone. This focus on software facilitates updating, extension and improvement of the devices.

Project hardware is modular by design

A complete anaesthetic workstation will consist of standalone hardware modules networked together and integrated with a low-cost commodity notebook computer. Each module will also continue to function in isolation as a medical monitor. Thus if only a pulse oximeter is required, only the jfish pulse oximeter device need be used. This also allows development to focus on individual devices as determined by the priority of access to such a monitor for world anaesthesia practice.

Use of a monitor as a component of a workstation will therefore add functionality to the system as a whole, but does not restrict the simplicity and utility of the monitor as a stand alone device. Similarly, as each monitor can function in isolation, the whole system is significantly robust. A malfunction in one module will not effect the functioning of another module - the system thus fails elegantly. This is incrediby important for medical equipment designed for use in challenging environments.

Extension, improvement and updating of the system will be as easy as downloading the latest software or device firmware from the project website. The modular nature of the design allows for easy customisation of different components, such as a user interface, by an interested individual.

Using a notebook computer as the central module of a complete anaesthetic workstation offers significant advantages:

  • Access to personal computers and associated maintenance is readily available in most developing countries (relative to access to anaesthetic workstations).
  • Western countries are large consumers of notebook computers providing a ready market of legacy, low-cost, high-power, used computers. A suitably powered notebook computer will cost US$200-400.
  • Notebook computers are designed to operate from battery power and are easily adapted to run from a variety of power sources, including vehicle batteries or solar cells.
  • Ease of integration with other commonly available peripherals, such as printers, network cards and web-cameras, allows further extension of the functionality of the monitor.
  • Convenient provision of a low-power LCD display as well as integrated keyboard.
  • Portability and ease of transport.
  • Most importantly, the notebook provides a uniform and consistent platform throughout the world.

The modular design of hardware and software will allow easy addition, removal or design of hardware modules as needed. Similarly, new software modules (eg. ST-segment analysis, arrhythmia detection, networking, data-logging) can be quickly ‘plugged-in’ to further extend the functionality, or removed to simplify the monitor, as required for local needs.

The provision of detailed design notes and software source code allows adaptation and improvement by any interested party, provided all such improvements are re-released to the community and licensed under the same license as the original work from the jfish project.

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