A research team led by iHealthtech principal investigator Asst Prof John Ho has developed a highly efficient and secure way for wearable devices to connect wirelessly, using conductive textiles cut into a special comb-shaped pattern.
The metamaterial textiles are able to create “surface waves” which stay within 10 cm of the body on the clothes instead of spreading outwards into the surrounding space. Thus, the energy efficiency of Bluetooth or Wi-Fi signals between devices is increased allowing wearable electronics to use much less power, and is also more secure since the signals are confined near the body.
“This innovation allows for the perfect transmission of data between devices at power levels that are 1,000 times reduced. Or, alternatively, these metamaterial textiles could boost the received signal by 1,000 times which could give you dramatically higher data rates for the same power,” said Asst Prof Ho.
Potential applications range from hospital clothing that can monitor patient health without a messy array of wires, to athletic clothing that can measure the performance of athletes outdoors without inhibiting their freedom of motion.
“We envision that endowing athletic wear, medical clothing and other apparel with such advanced electromagnetic capabilities can enhance our ability to perceive and interact with the world around us,” Asst Prof Ho said.
Here is a video demonstrating the metamaterial textiles:
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