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In a hospital setting, where efficiency and accuracy can literally be life-or-death matters, the increased availability of IoT devices has represented a vital practical advantage to hospital administration. IoT allows increased speed and precision in the transfer of information with vastly simplified infrastructure – a great benefit to operational efficiency at every level.
However, these devices have always come with certain drawbacks. Power consumption and length of service cycles, as well as more immediate practical concerns like heat generation and weight, have made the use of IoT devices a trade-off in many instances. Advantech’s new display option, ePaper technology, is poised to change much of that.
With ePaper, hospitals are now able to drastically reduce their reliance on both traditional paper and digital displays of all kinds. Unlike those that utilize traditional LCD/LEC displays, ePaper devices are LEO – Low Energy Operation – by design. These substantial gains in energy efficiency are possible because ePaper devices consume power only when updating the image on display. In terms of gross energy consumption, this not only presents a greener solution, as does the reduction in the consumption of actual paper, but also a significant cost saving for facilities.
The use of unnecessary digital signage, including both static LCD displays and all-in-one touch computers, can be meaningfully reduced with ePaper devices. Additionally, ePaper also takes the place of traditional paper signage, saving, even more, cost and waste. Advantech’s ePaper screens can replace large patient room whiteboards, medical tags on carts or pharmacy shelves, conference rooms or even name tags. Static displays, which can be set up to update automatically at shift changes, now need no complex bracketry or modification of walls or ceilings to be mounted due to the reduced weight. Maintenance can be set up to use ePaper tabs to tag assets and storeroom stock, as well as to track schedules for routine tasks. Perhaps most importantly, ePaper facilitates better availability of information to patients. Low-power signage is more reliable, improving the overall experience of hospital stays and reducing demands on staff and hospital utilities.
As far as practical utility, with up to five years of constant operation, increased battery life means that the devices almost never need to be powered down or taken out of circulation. Furthermore, the battery recharges are eliminated entirely, which equates to less downtime and less overall cost. LEO devices generate less heat, requiring no cables and offering reduced panel thickness and weight. The technology supports a full 180° viewing angle and sunlight-readability display, which is easier on the eyes than backlit screens – all benefits that suit the needs of a hospital setting quite well. Display devices can be paired with Advantech USM Gateway and HUB, onboard memory and a number of different wireless communication options, creating an integrated, end-to-end solution for greatly simplifying remote management of information.
There are, of course, certain trade-offs inherent to ePaper technology. Color display is possible, but maintaining such eco-friendly levels of power consumption means that black and white would be the main practical mode of operation. Low refresh rates, another natural consequence of low-energy operation, means that ePaper is not a good choice for video, and a lack of backlighting means that, unlike an LED/LEC device, a light source is necessary to view the screen. However, two-color operation and still image use also increase service life significantly, meaning that ePaper displays represent a greater value of an investment over time.
Considering the myriad requirements that hospitals have for static imaging, ePaper displays provide an intriguing and useful solution to a number of problems. Combined with their productivity-boosting attributes and cutting-edge improvements, these devices are up to the task of creating happier and more efficient hospitals.