How HDMI 2.0 Could be Changing the Way We “See” Medical Technology

Published: 09/07/2016

For this week’s “Connect with a Tech,” we caught up with Medical Applications Engineer, Theron Page, to get his take on high-speed data trends in the medical industry.

Q: Why 4K?

TP: High-performance video is no longer a novelty; in fact, most of us enjoy either High-Definition (HD) TV at 1080p or even 4K TV at 4000p on our mobile devices, in our homes and at our offices today. The personal benefits are obvious – a crisper, clearer and more dramatic picture. But can high-performance video be used to advance the medical industry? Indeed, the demand for HDMI 2.0 technology seems to be on the horizon for surgeons and medical practitioners. Albeit similar to the personal benefits, the advantages of incorporating high-definition video into medical applications could have a more significant impact on the advancement of the industry as a whole.

Q: How do you predict HDMI 2.0 will impact the medical industry?

TP: On the heels of 4K, doctors and surgeons are interested in how this technology can improve the quality of medical imaging. Coupled with internal LED lights and intuitive technology that tells a camera how to behave, higher definition endoscopes will allow doctors to get a clearer picture (literally) of what’s going on inside of the human body.

Q: Why isn’t 4K available to the medical industry today, if I have it in my home?

TP: Just like everyone else, the medical industry has experienced a slow evolution from coaxial to high speed data cables, and with it a significant increase in the amount of data that needs to be sent through a length of cable (10’ or so in most medical applications). Unlike consumer applications where the cables are relatively stationery, medical video cables need to be flexible and able to withstand the rigors of the surgical suite while also giving a surgeon a tool that is comfortable and easy-to-move.

In a nutshell, medical video cables typically contain three or four twisted pairs high performance shielded twisted pairs which transmit data. More data means larger twisted pairs and a larger, stiffer cable. The biggest obstacle today is keeping medical video cable compact, limp and durable while also preserving the signal integrity to meet the required higher data rates for HD and 4K video transmission. Data rates of 5 to 6Gb/sec/pair are required for 4K resolutions. At these rates, skew, jitter, rise time and impedance are critical performance characteristics.

Another reason for slower adoption of 4K technology in the medical industry is the availability of miniature charge-coupled device(CCD) video cameras that are of high resolution and pixel count, yet in a small enough package to adapt into a tiny camera housing.

Q: What comes after 4K technology in the medical world?

TP: Medical technology will continue to trail behind the consumer-based industry trends, which is centered on moving more data, and faster. HDMI 2.0 is the basis in technology for everything; it’s the highest performing specification for medical video systems and this is what medical technology aspires to today. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of medical video camera systems won’t immediately evolve to 8K systems – but we will continue the slow march toward higher data rates. In the not-too-distant-future, we may see fiber optic technology utilized to support the need for smaller and more powerful medical data cables. There is industry talk of going to an 8K system, but that’s evolutionary technology that is a few years down the road.

Carlisle Medical Technologies is dedicated to providing turnkey, customized medical interconnect solutions. Visit Booth 2338 at MD&M Minneapolis to learn how Carlisle Medical Technologies is addressing the industry’s need for high-performance video and hear about innovative ways to incorporate existing fiber optic technology in your application.