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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/H048154/1
Title: Smart Antenna Systems for Cooperative Low-Power Wireless Personal and Body Area Networks
Principal Investigator: Alomainy, Dr A
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Electronic Eng & Computer Science
Organisation: Queen Mary University of London
Scheme: First Grant - Revised 2009
Starts: 27 September 2010 Ends: 26 December 2011 Value (£): 97,488
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Mobile Computing RF & Microwave Technology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Communications Healthcare
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
16 Mar 2010 ICT Prioritisation Panel (March 10) Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Wireless sensor networks are attractive solutions that can be used in healthcare and sport performance monitoring applications which will enable constant monitoring of health data and constant access to the patient regardless of the current location or activity and with a fraction of cost of the regular face-to-face examination. Such a system is particularly useful in the case of in-home assistance of the elderly and rapid repatriation of recovering patents to their own homes, as well as for smart nursing homes, clinical trials and research augmentation. It was estimated in 2012, that wireless sensor solutions could save $25 billion worldwide in annual healthcare costs by reducing hospitalisations and extending independent living for the elderly. Current wireless sensor solutions are limited in that they do not provide the means to overcome obstacles and shadowing of propagating radio waves and also reduce the effect of interference in congested radio environments. The project will conduct research into new techniques and methods that combine both antenna and radio propagation engineering with networking and smart frequency agile communication systems. It aims to develop underpinning capabilities for an advanced low-power wearable antenna elements coupled with intelligent control algorithm capable of sensing and understanding the dynamic human body and dense indoor radio environment. Wireless monitoring of patients with critical illnesses can be taken as an example to demonstrate the benefit this technology will bring to the healthcare services. In dense hospital (or care homes) environments, there are many wireless standards present and radio communication is faced with many obstacles. In cases where there is no clear path between the patient's sensors (ECG, Blood pressure, blood sugar level, etc.) and the access points or the carer's receiving units, for example when a patient is laying face-down on a wireless sensor monitoring the heart, the communication link can be lost completely - a risk which is unacceptable to the healthcare profession. In cases when there is a lengthened radio propagation path from shadowing, the wireless sensor requires more power to communicate with the access point. For a system consisting of a number of independent sensors monitoring different vital signs, the power consumption can be significant enough to make the approach impractical, particularly for the elderly, whose reliability to recharge the power source cannot be guaranteed. Proposed in this project is a cooperative communication network of on-body wireless devices in which individual antennas in the network can adapt their radiation mode to switch between communicating with off-body units or using neighbouring devices on the same body. Appropriately configured, such a system will ensure that the data from the body-worn device can be communicated to the local base station or access point either directly or via one or more onbody sensor hops. So regardless of degree of shadowing - the system will autonomously find a communication pathway around the body to an antenna with the lowest path loss to the access point, hence minimising power consumption. The ability of the system to autonomously detect an uncongested part of the available radio spectrum for the communication link further adds to improved battery life.
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