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Innovative antennae may signal a 'new wave' in health care provision
Date:5/14/2008

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 patients 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.

Experts in antennas and bioelectromagnetics at Queens University Belfast (QUB), with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), have developed new types of antenna that get round these limitations.

Their work could revolutionise the way patient care is provided, making unnecessary visits for tests and check-ups a thing of the past. Instead, biosensors could gather data on heart rate, respiration, posture, gait etc, transmitting this information by radio signal to a control unit also on the patients body. The data could then be accessed by doctors via the internet or mobile phone, for example.

The new types of antenna are the first in the world to deliberately harness the so-called creeping wave effect. With a conventional on-body antenna the majority of the signal is transmitted either away from the patient or inwards, where it is absorbed by the patients body which weakens the signal. The rest of the signal, though, hugs the skins surface and creeps round the body where it is picked up by the control unit.

However, only a small amount of the signal behaves in this creeping way and so its overall strength has to be increased to allow enough of it to reach the control unit. Although traditional antenna designs can be used, they are physicall
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Contact: Natasha Richardson
natasha.richardson@epsrc.ac.uk
44-017-934-44404
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Source:Eurekalert

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