Low Power Body Worn Antenna Systems

Lead Research Organisation: University of Kent
Department Name: Sch of Engineering & Digital Arts


Future tele-medicine and communications systems will increasingly be worn on the human body with wireless links to external systems. Radio channels will propagate around the body and it is very important to be able to understand and characterize exactly how this energy is distributed about the surface of a human subject. There remains a concern among the public and users in general that exposure to radio frequency (RF) energy should be minimized to avoid possible health issues and reducing transmit powers will also improve battery life. Research has been done to assess how electromagnetic waves are guided by animated human models wearing radio devices, but this work does not include the effect of gaps caused by loose fitting clothing and how this causes the radio device to tilt with time. The position of a radio antenna will have a significant effect on how much energy is directed towards the surface of the skin and therefore on the wireless channel. This project is a collaboration between two established UK centres of wearable antenna and flexible screening research. The project will investigate new techniques for integrating antenna systems and screens into clothing for worn applications. The novelty of the proposal is to reduce RF powers by utilizing diversity between disguised and low profile antennas realizing the potential for low interference and improved reliability. New design philosophies will be created for worn wireless systems where movement data and worn antenna tilting will be captured from real humans and used to find propagation paths around the body while switchable periodic screens will select between magnetic reflection and surface guided modes. Antennas for medical applications mounted on disposable paper clothing will be explored as well as auto-tuning of antennas on different body types using varactor diodes, liquid crystal mixtures and MEMs switches. The outcomes of this research will well place the UK as a leader in, and an exploiter of, future wireless systems such as tele-medicine and pervasive computing.
Description Key findings concern the understanding of lower frequency microwave transmission around moving humans with Body Worn Networks. This work underpins subsequent technologies for body worn sensing as developed in follow on grants: EP/N009118, EP/M025543/1, EP/P027075/1, and EP/R02331X/1.
Exploitation Route The findings are of particular use for developers of body worn sensing networks where signal propagation needs to be across body as well as off body. Additionally, with sensing, the situation of the transceiver nodes is determined by the sensed parameter, rather than optimal wireless performance.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Healthcare,Security and Diplomacy

Description Our work on Body Centric Communications has developed antennas disguised as jeans buttons and belts and we have studied radio channels for communication point to point on the body as well as to off-body wireless access points. This work is supported by Great Ormond Street Hospital with the aim of reducing the transmit powers required for reliable communication for critical medical wireless equipment. Our work on Body worn antennas has been mentioned in the House of Lords (HoL Hansard 8/12/08).
First Year Of Impact 2009
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Healthcare
Impact Types Societal

Description Human Mounted Antennas
Amount £32,000 (GBP)
Funding ID DSTLx 
Organisation Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (DSTL) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2010 
End 05/2010
Description Equipment sharing with University of Birmingham 
Organisation University of Birmingham
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Researchers at the University of Birmingham visited us to take measurements using the EPSRC funded motion-capture system installed at Kent on this project. The collaboration resulted in a paper: 'Use of Motion Capture for Path Gain Modelling of Millimetre-Wave On-Body Communications Links'. The Birmingham team was funded by a separate EPSRC project. The ESPRC funded Motion Capture system at Kent was used with the Birmingham team to capture body movement and antenna positions at 60GHz. The Kent team were present to operate the equipment and advise the Birmingham researchers for this 2 day activity which resulted in a joint publication.
Start Year 2011
Description Special Workshop on Health Care Technologies 
Organisation Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Hospitals 
PI Contribution Our project supporter from Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, gave a special workshop to researchers at Kent on the subject of healthcare technology with special emphasis on the monitoring required to detect epilepsy in infants. Great Ormond Street, Principal Clinical Scientist, Alan Worley gave a one day specialist workshop to researchers at the University of Kent covering the needs of healthcare specialists in the diagnosis and montoring of epilepsy in infants with severe medical conditions. The purpose of the workshop was to identify current and future needs and to outline the effective pathways to collaboration and communication between researchers and health practitioners.
Start Year 2010
Description Use of Motion Capture Equipment at Kent by Queen Mary, University of London researchers 
Organisation Queen Mary University of London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The motion capture system at Kent was used by researchers from QMUL to validate the accuracy of their wireless location system. 2 one day visits were made by QMUL staff to use the EPSRC funded motion capture system at Kent. The purpose of the visits was to validate the accuracy of a novel wireless indoor location sytem developed at QMUL. This work has been jointly submitted for publicaton and is currently under review.
Start Year 2012