Menu
Scientific revolution
Water Flowing On Mars, NASA Spacecraft Data Suggest

Light Shed On South Pole Dinosaurs

Why Plant 'Clones' Aren't Identical

Puffins 'Scout Out' Best Migration Route

New Conducting Properties Discovered in Bacteria-Produced Wires

Researchers Unravel the Magic of Flocks of Starlings

'Paranoia' About Rivals Alters Insect Mating Behavior

Billion-Year-Old Piece of North America Traced Back to Antarctica

You Can Count On This: Math Ability Is Inborn, New Research Suggests

Scientist Develops Virus That Targets HIV: Using a Virus to Kill a Virus

DNA Building Blocks Can Be Made in Space, NASA Evidence Suggests

Polar Dinosaur Tracks Open New Trail to Past

New Eruption Discovered at Undersea Volcano, After Successfully Forecasting the Event

Study Builds On Plausible Scenario for Origin of Life On Earth

Scientists Have New Help Finding Their Way Around Brain's Nooks and Crannies

Astronomy: A Spectacular Spiral in Leo

Hydrogen-Powered Symbiotic Bacteria Found in Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vent Mussels

Deep Recycling in Earth Faster Than Thought

Engineers Reverse E. Coli Metabolism for Quick Production of Fuels, Chemicals

Genetically Modified 'Serial Killer' T-Cells Obliterate Tumors in Leukemia Patients

Biodiversity Key to Earth's Life-Support Functions in a Changing World

Darkest Known Exoplanet: Alien World Is Blacker Than Coal

Arctic Ice Melt Could Pause for Several Years, Then Resume Again

Like Humans, Chimps Are Born With Immature Forebrains

Decade-Long Study Reveals Recurring Patterns of Viruses in the Open Ocean

Antennas in Your Clothes? New Design Could Pave the Way
The next generation of communications systems could be built with a sewing machine. To make communications devices more reliable, Ohio State University researchers are finding ways to incorporate radio antennas directly into clothing, using plastic film and metallic thread.

In the current issue of the journal IEEE Antennas and Wireless Propagation Letters, they report a new antenna design with a range four times larger than that of a conventional antenna worn on the body -- one that is used by American soldiers today.

"Our primary goal is to improve communications reliability and the mobility of the soldiers," said Chi-Chih Chen, a research associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Ohio State. "But the same technology could work for police officers, fire fighters, astronauts -- anybody who needs to keep their hands free for important work."

For typical foot soldiers, mobility and communications are often at odds. An antenna can be a large and unwieldy addition to an already heavy load.

The idea of embedding communications devices in clothing to address this problem is not new, Chen explained. The Ohio State system takes elements from previous research and combines them in a new way, with the addition of a unique computer control device that lets multiple antennas work together in a single piece of clothing.

The result is a communications system that can send and receive signals in all directions, even through walls and inside a building, without a need for the wearer to carry an external antenna.

John Volakis, the Roy & Lois Chope Chair Professor and Director of the ElectroScience Laboratory at Ohio State, found a common analogy for the new design.

"In a way, we're doing what's already been done on a cell phone. You don't see cell phones with external antennas anymore, because the antenna is part of the body of the phone," Volakis said.

When antennas make contact with the human skin, however, the body tends to absorb radio signals and form a short circuit -- a fact driven home by the recent difficulties with the antenna placement on the iPhone 4. Also, if an antenna is improperly placed, a person's body can block it when he or she moves against a wall or other obstacles.

The Ohio State system overcomes these problems by surrounding the body with several antennas that work together to transmit or receive a signal, no matter which way a person is facing. An integrated computer control device senses body movement and switches between the antennas to activate the one with the best performance given the body's position.

The engineers created a prototype antenna by etching thin layers of brass on a commercially available plastic film, called FR-4. The film is light and flexible, and can be sewn onto fabric.

They attached it into a vest at four locations -chest, back, and both shoulders. The computer controller -- a metal box a little smaller than a credit card and an inch thick -- was worn on a belt.

In laboratory tests, the experimental antenna system provided significantly greater signal strength compared to a conventional military "whip" antenna, enabling a range of communications four times larger.

Perhaps most importantly, the new antenna system worked in all directions, even as researchers tested it inside the hallways of the ElectroScience Lab, where doors and windows would normally interfere with the signal.

Key to the technology was the engineers' development of network communications coding to coordinate the signals among the antennas. Doctoral student Gil-Young Lee developed a computer module to make the antenna control automatic. Lee, Chen, and Volakis co-authored the IEEE paper with Dimitrios Psychoudakis, senior research associate at the ElectroScience Lab.

They are partnering with an antenna design company, Applied EM of Hampton, VA, to commercialize the research, which was funded by a Small Business Innovation Research grant.

Chen currently estimates that the antenna systems, as demonstrated in the prototype, would cost $200 per person to implement, but mass production would bring that cost significantly down.

In the meantime, the engineers are working on printing antennas directly onto clothing, and embroidering antennas into clothing with metallic threads. A typical home sewing machine is now part of their laboratory equipment, and early tests have shown that the swirly designs they've embroidered into fabrics such as cotton -- and even taffeta -- can work as functional antennas.

That's why Volakis envisions the technology to be adaptable for the general public. The elderly or disabled could wear clothing that would let them communicate in case of emergency, without the stigma they might feel in wearing a more visible assistive device.

"Imagine a vest or shirt, or even a fancy ball gown made with this technology," he said, scrunching a sample of embroidered taffeta in his hand. "The antennas would be inconspicuous, and even attractive. People would want to wear them."

Для печати

Polar Ice Caps Can Recover from Warmer Climate-Induced Melting, Study Shows

Sniffer Dogs Can Be Used to Detect Lung Cancer, Research Suggests

Further, Faster, Higher: Wildlife Responds Increasingly Rapidly to Climate Change

Simple Way to Grow Muscle Tissue With Real Muscle Structure

Parasite Uses the Power of Attraction to Trick Rats Into Becoming Cat Food

Growth of Cities Endangers Global Environment, According to New Analysis

Common Cause of All Forms of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Discovered

Oldest Fossils On Earth Discovered

Plants and Fungi Play the 'Underground Market'

Galaxies Are Running out of Gas: Why the Lights Are Going out in the Universe

Antennas in Your Clothes? New Design Could Pave the Way

Astronomers Find Ice and Possibly Methane On Snow White, a Distant Dwarf Planet

Yeast's Epic Journey 500 Years Ago Gave Rise to Lager Beer


Menu
Smart Skin: Electronics That Stick and Stretch Like a Temporary Tattoo

Supernovae Parents Found: Clear Signatures of Gas Outflows from Stellar Ancestors

Hidden Soil Fungus, Now Revealed, Is in a Class All Its Own

Effortless Sailing With Fluid Flow Cloak

Research Reveals Genetic Link to Human Intelligence

Hidden Baja Undersea Park Is the World's Most Robust Marine Reserve

Searching for Spin Liquids: Much-Sought Exotic Quantum State of Matter Can Exist

How Butterflies Copy Their Neighbors to Fool Birds

Increased Tropical Forest Growth Could Release Carbon from the Soil

Fruit Bats Navigate With Internal Maps: Scientists Fit Bats With World's Smallest GPS Devices

Rapid Evolution Within Single Crop-Growing Season Increases Insect Pest Numbers

E. Coli, Salmonella May Lurk in Unwashable Places in Produce

Biologists Confirm Sunflower Domesticated in Eastern North America

Oldest Evidence of Nails in Modern Primates

Breathing New Life Into Earth: Evidence of Early Oxygen in the Oceans of Our Planet

Key Mechanism That Regulates Shape and Growth of Plants Discovered

Speaking and Understanding Speech Share the Same Parts of the Brain

Quantum Optical Link Sets New Time Records

It's a Small World, After All: Earth Is Not Expanding, NASA Research Confirms

Honeycomb Carbon Crystals Possibly Detected in Space

AIDS Researchers Isolate New Potent and Broadly Effective Antibodies Against HIV

Getting Inside the Mind (and Up the Nose) of Our Ancient Ancestors

Physicists Undo the 'Coffee Ring Effect'

Moon Younger Than Previously Thought, Analysis of Lunar Rock Reveals

Human Pathogen Killing Corals in the Florida Keys