Battery-free Wireless Body Sensor Networks for Human Physiological Signs Monitoring


Electronics - Radio Frequency
Infocomm - Internet of Things & Wearable Technology
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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 centimeters) between each sensor and a wireless readout device. Our near-field-enabled clothing capable of establishing wireless power and data connectivity between multiple distant points (up to meter scale) on the body to create a network of battery-free sensors interconnected by proximity to functional textile patterns. The clothing, which is fabricated by using computer-controlled embroidery to integrate conductive threads with near-field-responsive patterns on normal textiles, is completely fabric-based and free of fragile silicon components. Network systems based on the near-field-enabled clothing have been demonstrated for the real-time, multi-node measurement of spinal posture and continuous sensing of temperature and gait during exercise.




Compatible with near-field communication (NFC), wireless, battery-free

The clothing is compatible with existing devices based on near-field

communication technology, including those operating in the 13.56 MHz industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) band. The clothing can interact wirelessly with nearby devices including wireless readout devices and battery-free sensors without the need for connectors or energy-storage components.

Long working distance and multiplexing

The clothing capable of establishing wireless power and data connectivity between multiple distant points (up to meter scale) on the body to create a network of battery-free skin-mountable sensors.

High data security

The clothing manipulates the distribution of electromagnetic field generated from the reader while requiring both reader and sensor nodes to be proximity (few centimeters) to the near-field-responsive patterns. The operation within near-field physically enables the sensors network with high data security, without requiring additional cryptography techniques.

Scalable fabrication

The traditional textile fabrication method, computer-controlled embroidery, is used to automatically integrate conductive thread with designed patterns on normal textiles. Both fabrication equipment and material are commercially available. The clothing fabrication process is compatible with the current industrial method.  

Completely fabric-based

The clothing is completely fabric-based, composed of conductive thread and normal textiles, which is highly suitable for daily wear and wash. Its electrical performance is robust (<5% variation) to repeated bending (minimum 1 mm radius) over 5000 cycles or immersion in 70 °C hot water for over 200 h.


The near-field-enabled clothing establish real-time readout of wireless battery-free sensors by a single wearable device, allow full-body monitoring for both clinical applications in

  • rehabilitation (physical therapy)
  • radiological imaging
  • assisted living
  • athletic applications in performance assessment and fatigue detection


  • Near-field-enabled clothing is entirely comprised of fabric, which is suitable for daily wear and wash.
  • The clothing can interact wirelessly with nearby devices without the need for the user to plug or unplug connectors.
  • The clothing is compatible with any conventional NFC-enabled devices, including smartphones, without modification.
  • As the clothing creates a network for battery-free sensors, wireless sensors can be lightweight and physically imperceptible on the skin, enabling improved signal quality and user comfort. 
  • These sensors do not need to be removed or recharged and may be left on the body for extended periods of time, provided that a single power source at the hub (such as the smartphone) is available.
  • The low cost also allows single-use operation in which devices are sterilized, deployed on the body, and disposed of after use.
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