Published: June 7, 2020

Wireless battery-free body sensor networks using near-field-enabled clothing

Nature Communications, 23 January 2020

Rongzhou Lin, Han-Joon Kim, Sippanat Achavananthadith, Selman A. Kurt, Shawn C. C. Tan, Haicheng Yao, Benjamin C. K. Tee, Jason K. W. Lee & John S. Ho


Networks of sensors placed on the skin can provide continuous measurement of human physiological signals for applications in clinical diagnostics, athletics and human-machine interfaces. Wireless and battery-free sensors are particularly desirable for reliable long-term monitoring, but current approaches for achieving this mode of operation rely on near-field technologies that require close proximity (at most a few centimetres) between each sensor and a wireless readout device. Here, we report near-field-enabled clothing capable of establishing wireless power and data connectivity between multiple distant points around the body to create a network of battery-free sensors interconnected by proximity to functional textile patterns. Using computer-controlled embroidery of conductive threads, we integrate clothing with near-field-responsive patterns that are completely fabric-based and free of fragile silicon components. We demonstrate the utility of the networked system for real-time, multi-node measurement of spinal posture as well as continuous sensing of temperature and gait during exercise.

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