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Tyndall and Sanmina Corporation have announced a research collaboration, which will focus on the development of a novel wireless technology for a commercial wrist-worn health-monitoring platform. This platform will wirelessly monitor heart rate and arterial oxygen saturation (SpO2). Led by the Wireless Sensors Network (WSN) group at Tyndall, the objective of this research partnership is to improve the performance of these wearable platforms by providing more energy efficient wireless communications when compared with existing technology. The project is being funded by Enterprise Ireland through their Innovation Partnership Programme.
At present, Bluetooth wireless technology is in widespread use for short-range wireless sensing applications. It operates in the 2.4 GHz frequency band. However, at these frequencies, the human body has a significant effect on antenna performance, signal reliability and communications range.
As part of the collaboration, Tyndall will develop a sub-GHz wireless solution that has significant benefits for wearable sensing applications when compared with existing 2.4 GHz solutions. These benefits include the use of lower power radio technology that leads to increased battery lifetime; the provision of additional communication channels to mitigate current 2.45 GHz saturation in hospital environments; decreased signal loss due to the human body; and increased immunity from radio frequency interference.
Patients are set to benefit from the provision of longer-term, continuous health monitoring due to low power operation, which increases the chances of early detection for critical conditions and diseases.
Carlo Webster from Tyndall’s Commercial team comments: “The 915MHz band with integrated antenna is targeting a significant improvement to current Bluetooth protocols which currently operate at 2.4GHz. This band is primarily absorbed by the human body thus depleting battery life because of the human environment. This new RF approach along with some patented technology by Sanmina Corporation may lead to opportunities to integrate the technology into their respective customers’ wearable systems, thus enabling longer battery life for future wearable systems.”
Dr. John Buckley, Head of the Radio-Frequency Circuits and Systems Team in Tyndall’s WSN Group explains: “The solution that we will develop with Sanmina aims to significantly improve the performance of current wireless sensor technology and enable ultra-low power operation using sub-GHz frequencies. In particular, the goal is to develop a novel sub-GHz antenna design with high immunity to human body effects and combine this with state-of-the-art, low-power radio transceiver technology. This will enable improved reliability of wireless communications and increased battery lifetime that will in turn open up new opportunities in application areas such as personalized medicine and health and wellness applications”.
Robert Newberry, Director of Engineering, at Sanmina Corporation welcomes their partnership with Tyndall commenting: “Sanmina chose to partner with Tyndall’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for Health, considering two main criteria: First was their ability to solve real-life problems through excellence in the application of science and technology, secondly via their broad industrial outreach programs. Our goal with this innovation partnership is to jointly develop a wearable platform, which can be further extended into both industrial and medical applications in the hope of stream-lining time to market for future wearable solutions. The partnership builds upon the existing collaboration which sees Sanmina combining access to Tyndall’s €200 million of Research and Development (ICT) infrastructure, 500 scientist, engineers and support staff with Sanmina’s global reach and expertise in manufacturing. The collaboration will see both parties leveraging this expertise to co-develop new technology solutions for their respective client-base”.