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Researchers Submit Patent Application, "Proximity Signature for Secure Communication with Implantable Medical Device", for Approval

June 24, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Information Technology Newsweekly -- From Washington, D.C., VerticalNews journalists report that a patent application by the inventors Kalpin, Scott L. (Harris, MN); Leong, Patrick S. (Chatsworth, CA); Sarkinen, Scott A. (Greenfield, MN); Roberts, Earle T. (Maple Grove, MN); Mitchell, William J. (Eden Prairie, MN), filed on February 3, 2014, was made available online on June 12, 2014.

The patent's assignee is Medtronic, Inc.

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Medical devices implanted in patients may communicate with devices external to the patients via distance telemetry, such as radio frequency telemetry. Such distance telemetry communications do not require the external device, such as a programmer, to be located in close proximity to the patient, and thus are more convenient than proximity telemetry communications. While distance telemetry provides convenience to the communication process, security and unintentional access is a concern. For example, it may be possible that multiple implanted devices are within telemetric range of an external programming device. If a device implanted in one patient receives therapeutic instructions intended for a device implanted in another patient, the consequences could be dire. By way of another example, it may be possible for unauthorized parties to eavesdrop on such distance telemetric communications or to send unauthorized communications to an implanted device. Accordingly, there is a need to provide more secure communication associated with distance telemetry with implantable medical device."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "The present disclosure presents methods, systems, and devices that provide more secure transmission between an external device and an implantable medical device.

"In an embodiment, a method associated with establishing secure communication between an implantable medical device and an external device is described. The method is performed by the implantable medical device and includes receiving a first distance telemetry request for secure distance communication. The method further includes (i) determining whether a coded proximity telemetry signal is being received and (ii) transmitting, via proximity telemetry, information regarding an encryption key if the coded proximity telemetry signal has not been received. The method may further include determining whether a second distance telemetry communication containing information encrypted according to the encryption key is being received. The method may further include accepting the request for secure distance communication if the second distance telemetry communication contains information encrypted according the encryption key.

"In an embodiment, a method associated with establishing secure communication between an implantable medical device and an external device is described. The method is performed by the implantable medical device and includes (i) receiving a first distance telemetry request for secure distance communication and (ii) transmitting, via proximity telemetry, information regarding an encryption key. The method further includes determining whether a second distance telemetry communication containing information encrypted according to the encryption key is being received. If the second distance telemetry communication contains information encrypted according the encryption key, the method further includes accepting the request for secure distance communication.

"In an embodiment, a method associated with establishing secure communication between an implantable medical device and an external device is described. The method is performed by the implantable medical device and includes receiving a first distance telemetry request for secure distance communication and determining whether a coded proximity telemetry signal is being received. The coded proximity telemetry signal includes a coded magnetic field. The method further includes accepting the request for secure distance communication if coded proximity telemetry signal has been received.

"In an embodiment, an implantable medical device is described. The device includes a radio frequency transceiver module, an inductive receiver module, and a processor. The processor is operably coupled to the radio frequency transceiver module and the inductive receiver module. The processor is configured to compare signals received by the radio frequency transceiver module and the inductive receiver module to determine whether the signal received by the inductive receiver module is coded in a manner prescribed by the signal received by the radio frequency transceiver module. The inductive receiver module may be a part of an inductive transceiver module.

"In an embodiment, an implantable medical device is described. The device includes a radio frequency transceiver module, an inductive transmitter module, and a processor operably coupled to the radio frequency transceiver module and the inductive transmitter module. The processor is to cause the inductive transmitter module to transmit a signal containing information regarding an encryption key and is configured to determine whether a signal received via the radio frequency transceiver is encrypted according to the encryption key. The inductive transmitter module may be a part of an inductive transceiver module.

"In an embodiment, an external medical device capable of communicating with an implantable medical device is described. The external device includes a radio frequency transceiver module, an inductive receiver module, and a processor operably coupled to the radio frequency transceiver module and the inductive transmitter module. The processor is configured to cause the radio frequency module to transmit information encrypted according to encryption key information received from the inductive receiver module. The inductive receiver module may be a part of an inductive transceiver module.

"In an embodiment, an external medical device capable of communicating with an implantable medical device is described. The external device includes a radio frequency transceiver module, an inductive transmitter module, and a processor operably coupled to the radio frequency transceiver module and the inductive transmitter module. The processor is configured to cause the inductive transmitter module to transmit a coded magnetic field.

"By providing devices, systems and methods that provide more secure transmission between external devices and implantable medical devices, unintended or unwarranted programming of the implantable devices may be avoided or minimized. This and other advantages will be readily understood from the following detailed descriptions when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"FIGS. 1-4 are schematic diagrams of scenarios depicting unintended or unwarranted communication between external devices and devices implanted in a patient.

"FIGS. 5-6 are schematic block diagrams of representative systems.

"FIGS. 7-11 are flow diagrams of representative methods.

"The drawings are not necessarily to scale. Like numbers used in the figures refer to like components, steps and the like. However, it will be understood that the use of a number to refer to a component in a given figure is not intended to limit the component in another figure labeled with the same number. In addition, the use of different numbers to refer to components is not intended to indicate that the different numbered components cannot be the same or similar."

For additional information on this patent application, see: Kalpin, Scott L.; Leong, Patrick S.; Sarkinen, Scott A.; Roberts, Earle T.; Mitchell, William J. Proximity Signature for Secure Communication with Implantable Medical Device. Filed February 3, 2014 and posted June 12, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=3753&p=76&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140605.PD.&OS=PD/20140605&RS=PD/20140605

Keywords for this news article include: Medtronic Inc, Information Technology, Information and Data Encoding and Encryption.

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Source: Information Technology Newsweekly


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