Body of evidence: wearable antennas, like the ones being tested here, could change the face of patient care. (Credit: Image courtesy of Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council); image from sciencedaily.com
Compact, wireless and power efficient body sensors that allow doctors to monitor illnesses and injuries remotely are a step closer thanks to new research.
The use of biosensors attached to the body for health monitoring is not new. However, antennas that enable such devices to be linked together efficiently on a patient’s body without wires are currently too uncomfortable to wear for a long time because they need to be large in order to maximise the strength of the signal being received. They can be reduced in size but this leads to the antenna being less efficient, meaning that the battery powering the device has to be recharged more frequently.
The new antennas developed at QUB solve these problems. They are specifically designed to accentuate the creeping wave effect by maximising the amount of signal radiated out to the antenna’s side, rather than inwards and outwards. They are up to 50 times more efficient than previously available designs of the same dimensions. Due to the lower power requirement resulting from this step change in on-body performance and efficiency, the QUB team has succeeded in reducing antenna thickness from 34mm to less than 5mm thick for their new patch antenna, for example.
The antennas can therefore be fitted almost anywhere on the patient without causing significant inconvenience and are sufficiently low-profile to be incorporated into clothing or worn as part of a wound dressing.
The unique design of the new antennas could unlock the full potential of emerging ‘wireless body area network’ (WBAN) technology. A WBAN is a network of biosensors attached to different parts of a patient’s body. Patients wearing a WBAN could carry on with their normal lives — the doctor remotely monitoring the data gathered by the network would simply contact them to arrange appointments when needed.
Link via sciencedaily.com
Sure, it’s not a Biometr, but it’s a good start.