Wearable RFID Tags
Antennas must be lightweight, low-cost and powerful enough to support sensors in health-care applications.
With our design, the sensor-equipped ultrahigh-frequency tags have a read range of more than 4 meters (13 feet). This will reduce the cost of deployment, because fewer readers will be needed to capture the patient's data at critical locations, such as near beds or chairs.
Our newest wearable tag antenna is designed to snap on and off, to facilitate laundering garments in hospitals. The ability to discard the tag supports protocols to control the spread of contagious diseases. Generally, hospitals prefer to discard used items, so keeping tag cost low is important. We estimate each tag would cost less than $3.
With the cost concern in mind, we are exploring other designs. One possibility is a snap-on tag that can be sterilized and reused. Another is to embroider antennas into fabric to create more flexible structures that can be easily integrated into clothing. We also plan to explore ways to ensure that the chip can survive the laundry process.
Damith Ranasinghe is the research director of the Auto-ID Lab at the University of Adelaide, in Australia. Thomas Kaufmann is a senior lab researcher.
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