RFID Systems May Disrupt the Function of Medical Devices

Researchers ask whether hospitals should adopt new guidelines for medical electronics' interoperability

4 min read

24 June 2008—The use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) systems in hospitals may not be entirely safe, new research suggests. According to a study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association , RFID tags and the devices they communicate with can disrupt the performance of medical equipment, including pacemakers and dialysis machines, potentially endangering the patients who depend on those devices.

Erik Jan van Lieshout and Remko van der Togt, along with their colleagues at the University of Amsterdam’s Academic Medical Center, tested whether the presence of RFID transponders and the readers they transmit to could interfere with the function of 41 different electronic medical devices. The team examined both an active RFID system, in which the tags have batteries that allow them to transmit continuously, and a passive system, whose tags are powered only when in the range of a transmitter’s electromagnetic field. In 123 tests, they found 34 incidences of interference.

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An IBM Quantum Computer Will Soon Pass the 1,000-Qubit Mark

The Condor processor is just one quantum-computing advance slated for 2023

4 min read
This photo shows a woman working on a piece of apparatus that is suspended from the ceiling of the laboratory.

A researcher at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center examines some of the quantum hardware being constructed there.

Connie Zhou/IBM

IBM’s Condor, the world’s first universal quantum computer with more than 1,000 qubits, is set to debut in 2023. The year is also expected to see IBM launch Heron, the first of a new flock of modular quantum processors that the company says may help it produce quantum computers with more than 4,000 qubits by 2025.

This article is part of our special report Top Tech 2023.

While quantum computers can, in theory, quickly find answers to problems that classical computers would take eons to solve, today’s quantum hardware is still short on qubits, limiting its usefulness. Entanglement and other quantum states necessary for quantum computation are infamously fragile, being susceptible to heat and other disturbances, which makes scaling up the number of qubits a huge technical challenge.

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