Healthcare comms: a whole new world

The use of wireless communications in the healthcare sector is proliferating in many different areas, including an ever-expanding range of wearable devices, however, it is deep body implant sensor technology that really represents the cutting edge.

There are many developments under way in connected healthcare, but among the most exciting and cutting edge are smart body implants. Broadly speaking, these fall into two categories.

Firstly, human bio-sensors placed outside the body, which, while effective enough, have the disadvantage of being quite bulky, as well as not always accurate about what is happening inside the body. Wireless sensors implanted within the body, meanwhile, are able to deliver more accurate data on a regular basis, meaning treatments can be more specifically tailored to the patient’s needs.

For those who may not know, these implants are used to sense a physiological response, actuate physiological organs, or to deliver medical treatments. For example, smart surgical ‘nails’ consisting of a strain sensor, electronics and coils for radio signal generation can be sealed in biocompatible titanium and embedded in bone implants.

This enables doctors to track how well the bone is healing and be more precise in terms of how far to push therapy treatments. The challenge with implanted sensors is that they have to be very small. At the same time, they still need to be capable of sending bidirectional communications from within the body, as well as supporting a reliable power source.

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