Intellectual property patent status

Body-mounted antennas allow a person’s vital health indicators – such as heart rate and oxygen saturation – to be monitored remotely. Previously, antenna performance was severely limited as a result of interaction with the body. This new patented technology overcomes these limitations, thereby improving range, data-rate, and reliability.

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Enabling someone to be monitored away from a clinical setting has clear advantages, such as patient convenience, as well as the freeing up of medical facilities. The same technology that enables this can also be used to monitor military personnel in the field.

However, for these applications to become widely adopted, body-worn antennas need to be designed for optimal performance in challenging environments (such as on or near the skin).

Until now, this has proven difficult – with antennas worn close to the body being particularly prone to having their performance affected. As the body absorbs some of the antenna’s radiated power, it causes reduced efficiency, distortion in the radiation pattern, and detuning of the antenna.

Previous attempts to overcome these issues included placing the antenna away from the body, but this is often neither practical nor desirable. In order for the potential of this technology to be fully realised, a more elegant solution was essential.

The solution

Engineers at the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) have produced a significantly improved body-mounted antenna that removes the wearer’s negative impact on antenna performance.

This new antenna uses the human body as part of the antenna design itself. This prevents the resolution, efficiency, and overall performance of the antenna being degraded. The resulting antenna enables off-body monitoring systems that are reliable up to a range of 1km, and can transmit data reliably from the surface of a subject’s body while being small, lightweight, and discreet.

Key benefits

  • A high-performance antenna that overcomes the traditional negative effects and interferences of the body.
  • The design’s small size and weight makes it discreet, low-profile, comfortable to wear, and provides greater freedom of movement than previous antennas. As the wearer’s body is used to provide a cavity filler and backplate for the antenna, the mounted antenna element is able to be extremely thin.
  • The antenna can be applied as a temporary ‘tattoo’ made from an electrically conductive ink or decal.
  • No additional communication infrastructure is needed to achieve the 1km monitoring distance.
  • The antenna bridges the gap between the range that is achieved by Bluetooth and traditional radio, or 3G/4G solutions.
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Potential applications

Antenna athlete 2

Athlete monitoring and performance

For professional athletes, the ability to accurately measure physical health indicators, such as heartrate and the level of oxygen in the blood, can be crucial during training and competition to determine progress and to flag potential health risks.

It is essential that the antennas are lightweight and allow a full range of motion so as not to inhibit the athlete’s performance.

Monitoring of military personnel

In military applications, this technology enables the health status of individuals in the field to be closely monitored, providing early indication of otherwise unseen health risks, thereby enabling time-critical, data-driven, and potentially life-saving interventions.

The reduced size and weight of the antenna, compared with previous designs, makes this technology far more acceptable from an operational perspective.

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Antenna remote patient monitoring

Medical diagnostics and remote patient monitoring

This technology could provide independence and freedom for patients who need to be closely monitored, allowing them to live safely in their own homes or care facilities while their vital health indicators are monitored remotely, improving their quality of life.

The lightweight and small antenna design significantly reduces disruption to the wearer’s comfort, mobility, and routine, as well as increasing resolution and reliability compared with previous antenna designs.

Animal tagging and tracking

In the fight to save declining or endangered species, it is essential that scientists and conservationists have a means by which they can monitor the health of individual animals, as well as group behaviour, from a distance.

Minimising the size and weight of antennas is crucial in ensuring they don’t burden or cause stress to the animal.

Antenna performance animal tagging

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