Body-Centric Wireless Communications

The development of wearable computer systems has been growing rapidly. These are becoming smaller and more lightweight; no one wants to wear a bulky and heavy computer all day! We will soon see a wide range of unobtrusive wearable and ubiquitous computing equipment integrated to into our everyday clothes. In a possible wearable computer, the monitor/display would be on a pair of glasses, the keyboard worn on the wrist, and the motherboard worn on the waist. It is undesirable to use bulky cables to connect these devices, so communication will be wireless, using an antenna.

The human body is an uninviting and often hostile environment for a wireless signal. Compact yet efficient antennas need to be fully characterized and integrated with the RF transceiver. Some of these are conformability and immunity to frequency and polarization detuning. It is important to understand material properties of fabrics and potential use of microwave metamaterials to minimize the specific absorption rate (SAR).

We are working on the important issue of the design of such an antenna. We are particularly considering the following issues:

Wearable Sensor Antennas have to be compact and easily integrated. They should be immuned from de-tuning and performance degradation due to surrounding components and when placed on the body. They should have high efficiency to achieve maximum radiated power to enlarge coverage area specifically for communication between body mounted devices and base units/access points. It is also needed in the wireless sensor antenna design to overcome shadowing problems caused by the human body and the dynamic environment.


Antennas and Propagation for Wireless Implants

Wireless Implants provide flexibility to the patience and the surgeon in terms of replacement and long lifetime. They have advantages of maintaining constant availability and ease of operation, which are required for future patient monitoring and diagnosis systems. Applications include but not limited to:

The group has had many successful collaborations including an ongoing research with the National Research Centre for Bowel Disease and Barts and The London on localisation and tracking wireless endoscope for future efficient patient-centric endoscopy.

UWB Antennas and Their Applications in the Home Environment

UWB provides High capacity, Multipath robustness, Fine time resolution for accurate delay estimate, Low transmission power, Inexpensive systems and Multi-access. Dispersion of human tissues across the frequency band needs to be considered in on-body antenna and propagation characterisation. Usually, non-dispersive antennas are required for optimum performance with radiation that minimises path loss across UWB band. Since UWB is Impulse Radio technology, received pulse shape and property is of great importance.


Wearable Antennas and Sensors

The group has been working in collaborations with material scientists at QMUL, The Royal College of Art, Loughborough University and Nottingham University to push the boundaries for textile based antennas and EM devices and structures going beyond wearable antennas to complex metamaterials. Activities inlcude Graphene-based soft antennas with efficient performance for near field and medium range application to be first screen print and tested in our labs.

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Nano-scale body-centric communications and networks at THz

With the development of nanotechnology, the idea of connecting nano-devices to conduct complicated tasks and communicate the information collected by these devices was a natural progression in order to complete the overall picture of a new generation of connected devices. As a consequence, nano-networks were proposed by the IEEE standardization group (P1906.1 - Recommended Practice for Nano-scale and Molecular Communication Framework, which the principal supervisor is a member of) and therefore the need for nano-communication was a necessity. Nano-networking is the study of communication among devices and/or entities – manmade, biological, and hybrid – with very small dimensions; challenging physical features of this communication environment make analysis and system design very different from conventional communication systems. Nano-networking is a rapidly emerging discipline, but as yet (1) emerging technology trends and important open problems in this area are unclear; and (2) new industrial applications need to be identified. Although we have a comprehensive understanding of wireless body sensors and other cellular networks, how nano-devices communicate inside or around the body is still an open research challenge. It is generally accepted that molecular communication is the most promising method to transfer information between nano-devices when it comes to bio-applications. But is there any possibility to adopt the electromagnetic (EM) communication paradigm at nano-scale? Adopting EM communication will create an easier path for larger networks and also allow the use of varying technologies and data rate based on the scenario of concerned.

The group has been active in recent years in theoretical, numerical and experimental research focused on the proof of concept and validation of the down scaling of the body-centric wireless communication networks to the nano-scale and enjoyed grant funding from national and international research councils, industries and chartities. The group collaborated with leading experts from USA, UK, EU, Japan, Singapore, Qatar, UAE and many more. The group was also a lead contributor to the IEEE P1906.1 Nano-scale and Molecular Communication Framework and also an active member of the IEEE SC THz standardisation group.

The applications range from comprehensive healthcare monitoring, localised tissue detection of deformations (e.g. skin biological deformation monitoring), chemical compound recognition and high data rate confined and secured next generation communication.





Highlights and Research Outcomes

Selected Research Grants and Projects

Selected Recent Publications