Innovative Solution Improves Implantable Device Communication

By Thomas Crocker
Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Researchers at the National University of Singapore are creating innovative ways to improve communication with implantable devices. The researchers determined that a shirt printed with specially pattered conductive ink not only helps electronic devices more efficiently transmit wireless signals but also conserves battery life.

Electronic medical implants use considerable energy to relay radio waves out of the body because the skin reflects many of the waves’ rays, confining the waves to the body, writes Chris Lee for Ars Technica. In a study published in the journal Physical Review Applied, National University of Singapore researchers devised a way to amplify wireless transmission using a shirt printed with patterns designed to modify evanescent waves created by the body’s reflection of the radio waves.

Boosting the Signal

“[T]ailored diffractive patterns placed on the surface of the body can enhance wireless transmission by nearly an order of magnitude via the conversion of evanescent waves generated by total internal reflection into propagating waves that transmit into the far field,” the researchers write.

The researchers tested the shirt by placing it on a dead pig containing a Bluetooth transmitter. The transmitter produced a stronger signal and gained 20 hours of battery life compared with a transmitter inside a pig corpse that was not outfitted with the shirt, Lee writes. The shirt could enhance the durability and efficiency of electronic medical implants in the future, according to the researchers.