Looking to antennas for healthcare M2M gains

An Irish company with offices in the U.S., Taiwan, Mexico and South Africa has rolled out what's being touted as the first flexible circuit loop antenna, which promises over 40 percent efficiency in healthcare monitoring devices. Taoglas, which designs and manufactures reduced size VHF and UHF antennas for satellite, cellular, Wi-Fi, and multi-band markets, says its new FLA.01 antenna is a penta-band cellular antenna that is embedded inside medical devices. The buzz is that it should help medical device designers ensure that their devices achieve reliable, consistent wireless connections for transmitting patient data and meeting healthcare industry tests, such as Specific Absorption Rates (SAR) and PTCRB.

Taoglas officials say the technology can achieve high performance, especially when customized, and can be applied to any frequency including license-free bands, such as 433MHz, 868MHz, 915MHz, 2.4GHz and higher. The FLA flexible circuit antenna is touted as particularly well-suited to the healthcare market because it can conform to any shape or size, offering a mechanical advantage for medical devices.

The fact that the material used in flexible circuit antennas performs well on the body itself is another advantage, since the body has an acute effect on traditional antenna materials like FR4 or metal, shifting the frequencies and detuning the antenna.

According to a company statement: "With the loop antennas the radiating element (antenna circuit) is embedded within the antenna. It becomes less resistant to detuning from surrounding components and housing as it works more strongly in magnetic field (H). Most components inside a wireless device are working on the electric field (E). This means the field the antenna is radiating in is less effected by noise, emissions and radiation from the device itself and from the body."

So, how does it work in hospital settings? While the antenna could be used for many applications, one real world example involves Jaotech in Taiwan, which placed the FLA.01 inside an incontinent pad for a hospital project in Singapore. "A device with our antenna on a colostomy bag alerts a central monitoring device informing the nurse that the bag is full and needs to be changed," said Dermot O’Shea, Director, Taoglas. "It saves nurses time and makes sure that patients lying in hospital beds are not feeling uncomfortable."

 

John Farrell blogs daily at MobileHealthWatch.com.