Future of medical testing: Body sensors that use ultrawideband communication

Researchers at Oregon State University discovered a technology that might help doctors know about the state of your health by continuously, monitoring your body.
Written by Boonsri Dickinson, Contributing Editor

Ideally, you'd want a small body sensor that could generate enough energy from your body heat to monitor your health in real-time - transmitting your blood pressure back to your doctor's cell phone. But the main problem with creating body sensors right now is making them so they can transmit data without being an energy hog. And, let's be honest, no one really wants to carry around a clunky device either.

Researchers at Oregon State University found that a technology called ultrawideband communication might be the way to go, especially if you want the device to operate on a large bandwidth. Conventional narrowband systems such as Zigbee and BlueTooth standards use up a lot of power and transmit data at a low rate. Ultrawideband communication is also more energy efficient, which is critical if you don't want to worry about recharging body sensors all the time. There's one caveat for this technology to work properly: the receiver has to be in the line of sight and can't go through the human body. However, the researchers found, even non-line of sign transmission is possible.

OSU's professor Patrick Chiang said in a statement, "Ideally, you could not only monitor health issues but also help prevent problems before they happen. Maybe detect arrhythmias, for instance, and anticipate heart attacks. And it needs to be non-invasive, cheap and able to provide huge amounts of data."

Here's how it would work: If a person was running, his wearable sensor would wirelessly transmit blood pressure data to a nearby receiver, so a remote doctor could check in on the person's well-being through cellular or Internet connection.

"Through this wireless body sensor network, disease prevention can be improved with this continuous real-time diagnosis, thus reducing the onset of degenerative diseases and healthcare costs," the OSU authors wrote in the EURASIP Journal of Wireless Communications and Networking. The idea is to prevent or treat the disease by closer real-time monitoring of a person's body.

via CNET

Photo: Oregon State University

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