RF Innovations in Design of Next Generation Medical Devices

During the earlier development and deployment of medical devices, integration of RF subsystems were considered as out-of-reach design options. For example, an earlier version of an implantable pacemaker used a primary battery cell and required a change of implant every 5-10 years. Most of the medical devices required physical wired connections to the sensor/actuators that led to limited use cases and lower adoption by patients. Moreover, with the limited understanding of interaction of electromagnetic fields with tissue media and central/peripheral nervous systems, some of the applications had not yet been imagined. In the last two decades, with the significant innovations in low power, low noise, high frequency, miniaturized RF circuit design, and new battery technologies some of the barriers to realize innovative medical devices are reduced. Such as our example, low power, miniaturized pacemakers with wireless powering/charging became the commonly commercialized implant. However, integration of efficient RF antennas in miniaturized medical devices remains a clear challenge. In industry, there has been a significant push to achieve smaller sensors/actuators with RF connectivity and efficient wireless charging capability. New industries are also being built based on the innovative applications of electromagnetic field interactions with the human body. In this workshop, we will discuss the industry’s approach for three distinct applications of electromagnetism in medical devices operating at frequencies ranging from few kHz to tens of GHz. First application includes innovations in wireless charging of implantable, wearable and standalone medical devices. Resonance based wireless powering, Midfield wireless powering, and metamaterial enhanced wireless powering are some of RF innovations well received in the industry. Second usage includes innovations in RF connectivity to medical devices. With the limited available space for RF antennas inside the implanted and body-worn devices, industry has to rely on innovating unique antenna structures to achieve efficient performance. Third category includes emerging technologies that are driven by the interaction of the EM field with the human body. Some of the products include cuff-less blood pressure monitoring, radar based vital sign monitoring and Transcranial magnetic stimulation. Please join me to discuss a wide variety of current and emerging products that are leading in industry’s interests.