The past decade has witnessed tremendous progress in the field of biomedical engineering. Technology has impacted drastically in many areas of the healthcare industry. Few examples are X-ray machine, MRI spectroscopy, Ultrasound, Computed Tomography (CT Scan), and Lasik surgery. One of the newest additions can be Wearable Electronics products. These products can monitor a patient in a continuous manner. One of the most popular examples can be Smartwatch. Thus a patient (located in a remote area) can be monitored 24 x 7. Today, glucose monitoring, insulin pumps, deep brain stimulation, and endoscopy are a few examples of medical applications that could take advantage of remote monitoring.
Components of Wearable System
The basic components of Wearable Systems are Sensors, Antenna, and Power Supply. A brief discussion about them is provided in the following sections.
- Sensors: This is the key component of any wearable electronic system. There are various types of sensors that can be used. The selection of sensors is purely based on t what type of application is required. Some of the commonly used sensors can be Pressure Sensor, Motion Sensor, ECG sensor, Microwave sensor, etc.
- Antenna: Antenna plays a vital role in the transmission and reception of signals. There are two distinct frequency bands allotted for this purpose. They are ISM band(2.45 GHz) and MICS band(401-405 MHz). As the antenna size is inversely proportional to the operating frequency, the ISM band is preferred. Because, if the antenna is designed for the ISM band, then the size of the antenna will be smaller. Moreover, the EIRP (Effective Isotropically Radiated Power) in the ISM band is more than the MICS band. Nowadays radiofrequency/microwave applications provide major contributions to disease prevention, diagnosis, and therapy. A no exhaustive list would include imaging, septic wound, cancer treatment by hyperthermia, and enhancement of drug absorption to mention but a few. Specifically, remote abilities are extremely valuable in current medication so as to improve the patient’s solace and care, for example by diminishing the intrusiveness of electromagnetic (EM) clinical instruments.
- Power Supply: Power Supply is another important element in the wearable system design. In general, a constant power supply is required for the normal operation of the device. The size of the power supply must be very compact. Nowadays, Wireless Power Transfer (WPT) is also used for this purpose.
In wearable electronics, the whole arrangement must ensure bio-safety. For this reason, the whole system must be covered with a bio-compatible layer (PDMS). Another important thing is that the EM wave must not cause any harm to the body. The energy absorption by the body due to EM waves (Specific Absorption Rate or SAR) must lie within the permissible range provided by IEEE. The SAR value must lie within 1.6 W/Kg for 1gm of living tissue for 1 Watt of input power.
The sensor will sense the bio-signals based on the applications. Then these data must be sent by the transmitting antenna. In general Microstrip Patch antennas are used for this purpose. It has some distinct advantages. For example, it’s much easier to obtain multiple frequency bands in a patch antenna. It’s easier to obtain linear as well as circular polarization in patch antenna. The fabrication cost is very low and these antennas are very compact. Hence, they can fit into the body very easily. The most commonly used substrates for patch antenna are felt, cotton, jeans, etc. These signals must be received by an antenna at the receiver end. Then, various signaling operations are performed on the received signal. For example noise removal, amplification of the signal, data extraction, etc.
Wearable electronics have already been commercialized a few years ago. Few startups and big companies have already invested a large amount of money in this technology. Few big layers in this market are Apple, Xiaomi, Samsung, Garmin, ODG, etc. This technology can improve the quality of life all across the world. In 2020, India is a home of 77 million diabetic patients. Hence, continuous glucose monitoring using wearable devices, in India can improve the health condition of many patients. Moreover, these devices can be used in other diseases too. This is also an opportunity for Indian companies too.
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