Written by Ben Ellison on Jan 26, 2015 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub
Sail's 2015 Pittman Innovation Awards were just announced and one of several interesting winners is a series of DigiMed wireless kits that work with Digigone's existing telemedicine service. Even the smallest DigiMed Mini above can teleconnect you to a 24/7 emergency medical center via Android tablet and Bluetooth headset and I've seen how the included wireless macro camera allows the experts to examine the victim down to skin pore level...
I first saw the DigiMed tablet and camera system demonstrated last February in Miami and in 2013 Digigone set me up with the bandwidth-efficient SecureChat video chat software and compression service that's behind all their products. I saw usable two-way chat video passing through my PC at an impressively measly 60 Kbps, though it makes sense that Digigone recommends a minimum of 150 Kbps for telemedicine. But that bandwidth is usually easy via cell phone these days and, more relevant to boats out in blue water or exotic locales, it should work fine with a small Inmarsat FB150 satellite system. In fact, a DigiMed system would pair very nicely with the new LinkWav Inmarsat service because LinkWav lets you easily switch up to unlimited service minutes if the situation demands it.
Digigone has gone a little wild with the "Digi" moniker so what used to be SecureChat is now called DigiChat and the extended version that is displaying electrocardiogram and other sensor data on the tablet above is called DigiMed Consult. That's the medium-size DigiMed Vital kit above and the top-of-the-line DigiMed Plus sitting on the floor of the Fort Lauderdale press room below. Yes, I received various diagnostic tests like an ECG and had the macro camera looking closely at my eyeball, all with wireless tools that are all charged and ready to go when the kit is opened. We did not complete the connection with the 24/7 GWU Maritime Medical Access center in Baltimore MD, but that facility's over-20-year history serving commercial vessels looks impressive to me. The costs of the DigiMed kit, Digigone service contract, and MMA service contract all add up but I think the total is still reasonable compared to similar ship services and it's great to see the various technologies shrinking in size while getting easier to use.
The Pittman Innovation Awards should be of interest to all boaters though some categories are pretty specific to sailing. This is one of the only marine awards programs where the judges can nominate candidates (though manufacturers can also suggest their products to Sail). We don't get to see product demos together like the NMMA Innovation Awards at the Miami and IBEX shows, but the five category judges spend a lot of time on email and conference calls comparing notes and arguing the merits of personal favorites. So you'll see our names on our category write-ups but know we made the decisions together.
In fact, the Iridium Go app screen below illustrates a long call I had with cruising-category judge Charlie Doane in which we confirmed that using a smartphone with Iridium GO can sound as good if not better than using an actual Iridium phone. (I feel major guilt for not yet completing full reviews of GO and Globalstar SatFi, but it will happen soon I swear.) At any rate, congratulations to Iridium, Digigone, Garmin, B&G, Furuno, Nobeltec, BoatLogger and the others for their Pittman Innovation awards.