Remotely monitoring health

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), with funding from the Engineering and Physical Research Council (EPSRC), have developed wireless antennas and bioelectromagnets for health monitoring.

The research aims to eliminate problems associated with wireless antennas, which are linked to a patient’s body. These are often too uncomfortable to wear due to the large size, which is needed in order to maximise the strength of the signal received. The new device could ensure that biosensors gathered data such as heart rate, respiration and posture to transmit the information by radio signal, to a control unit on the patient’s body.

These new antennas are up to 50 times more efficient than previous designs of the same dimensions. Due to the lower power performance and efficiency, the QUB team has succeeded in reducing antenna thickness from 34mm to less than 5mm thick. It can be fitted almost anywhere on the patient without causing inconvenience and is low profile enough to be incorporated into clothing or worn as part of a wound dressing.

The unique design could unlock the 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 WBAN could carry on with normal lives away from hospital, with the doctor remotely monitoring the data gathered by the network and contacting them when required.