FCC Paves Way for MIT Remote Health Monitor

The FCC has granted MIT's request for a waiver allowing the widespread use of a new remote patient monitoring system. 

The WiTrack allows caregivers to monitor patients and seniors without physical contact by wirelessly monitoring gait, breathing, heart rate and sleep, as well as to detect falls. 

Related: FCC Approves More Telehealth Funding

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a premium on social distancing, including, when possible, in healthcare settings. 

MIT had sought a wavier of FCC rules on how much bandwidth its WiTrack wireless transmissions could use and how it would demonstrate compliance. The FCC concluded that granting the waiver would not pose any greater risk of interference to other communications services than devices it has already allowed under existing rules. 

“Now, more than ever, we need to support and enable innovation in health care,” said FCC chair Ajit Pai of the waiver. “That includes innovative wireless devices like WiTrack... Devices like these can be the difference between life or death, especially now when remote monitoring is critical for patients, seniors and their caregivers as we all practice social distancing."

Congress has made it clear remote healthcare is one of the FCC's "job ones" during the pandemic, including by giving it $200 million to fund telehealth inititatives. 

Related: FCC Gets $200 Million for Telehealth

The devices will operate under part 15 rules for ultra-wideband devices, which allows a class of low-power devices to operate without an individual FCC license. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.