Funded by the United States Army Medical Research and Materiel Command's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center, the DREAMS project, based at Texas A&M University and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UT-Houston), has designed an on-the-go communications system that enables two-way video, audio and data communications in ambulances, military vehicles and remote hospitals.
In preparation for its operational launch, DREAMS has selected the SkyStream Mediaplex-20 video headend system for the UT-Houston satellite hub. It is currently road-testing civilian ambulances and military vehicles, called High Mobility Military Wheeled Vehicle - HMMWV's or civilian version humvee - mounted with cameras, satellite video, audio, and data communications equipment that can transmit and receive data and video from multiple sources, including the satellite hub.
The Mediaplex-20 is the only product that met the programme's tough requirement for an integrated network services system that can source, distribute and bridge between video and data services over multiple network architectures across the United States.
"The Mediaplex-20 is a complete, all-in-one video headend system that allows us to integrate with multiple networks for receiving of both video and data, manipulate it and distribute it over both IP and satellite networks to reach emergency medical workers anywhere", stated Dave Beering, principle of Infinite Global Infrastructure, the lead system designer and integrator on the Houston hub project. "SkyStream's Mediaplex-20 was a cost-effective solution that eliminated the requirement to source multi-vendor equipment and whose modular design met our future growth needs."
Mediaplex's support for high capacity IP and ATM data interfaces, as well as its various video interfaces, video processing capabilities for video multiplexing, de-multiplexing, encapsulation and de-encapsulation of incoming data and video made it the system of choice for the DREAMS network environment. In this network, Mediaplex's multi-in, multi-out, modular chassis-based platform allows for the manipulation and reliable delivery of both video and data services required by the receiving devices on the DREAMS network.
"The idea behind DREAMS is to allow the best and most appropriate medical expertise to be leveraged in multiple locations simultaneously", stated Dr. James H. "Red" Duke, Medical Director and principal investigator of DREAMS. "The versatile video delivery platform that makes it possible for medical experts to visually communicate with remote, on-site medics in the field or in-route to hospitals could save a lot of lives."
With support from DREAMS, rural hospital-based medical personnel or ambulance-based emergency medical technicians with limited expertise can watch a monitor and receive video-based acute care and expert diagnostics and treatment remotely from a team of medical experts based in major hospital centres. Using a video camera with a satellite uplink mounted in the vehicle, the medical team can see the patients' injuries and analyse their vital signs via the vehicle's diagnostic equipment, which is connected to the mobile communications platform.
"The role of video technology in saving lives is just beginning", stated Jim Olson, CEO of SkyStream. "We are proud that the versatility of Mediaplex-20's video delivery capabilities over any network can be utilized so effectively by the DREAMS project, which has the resources and leadership to make on-the-go, video-based emergency treatment a reality very soon."
The DREAMS ambulances and HMMWV's connect to the DREAMS network via a 60 cm antenna using new tracking methodologies and serving as a Ku-band land-mobile satellite downlink. Inside the ambulance, a rack-mounted system includes a complete communications system with computers, analogue and digital high-speed connectivity, power supply, cell phone, satellite phone and video cameras.