Wireless Health Care

Wireless technologies are about to transform health care, and not a moment too soon

14 min read
Wireless Health Care
Illustration: Viktor Koen

Imagine a world in which your medicine cabinet notices that you are due for a prescription refill and calls it in. A sensor implanted under your skin detects a fluid buildup in your lungs and alerts your doctor, who decides your heart medication needs an adjustment and contacts the pharmacist to change your dosage. Meanwhile, sensors in your toilet confirm that your body has adjusted well to your other medications but sees indications that you may be a borderline diabetic. Your doctor, given these readings and your family medical history, suggests that you change your diet. Noting that fact, your bathroom scale asks you to punch in a weight-loss goal and starts giving you a regular progress update. Your medical checkup isn’t an annual event—it happens every day, simply as you go about your daily life.

If such ambient monitoring and intervention strikes you as a little creepy, think of it this way: It could avert a heart attack, stroke, or other medical crisis. It could keep you out of the hospital and save money for both you and the health care system. Part of the savings would come from radical changes in the management of chronic diseases, which in the United States eats up 75 percent of health care spending, or about US $1.9 trillion each year.

Keep reading...Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Superlattices Could Make Bulky Capacitors Obsolete

Researchers hope artificial antiferroelectric capacitors could help miniaturize electronics further

3 min read
A grid of arrows pointing in different directions

In artificial antiferroelectric structures, electric dipoles are normally arranged in ways that lead to zero electric polarization.

Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology/Science Advances

One roadblock to shrinking present-day electronics is the relatively large size of their capacitors. Now scientists have developed new "superlattices" that might help build capacitors as small as one-hundredth the size of conventional ones.

Whereas batteries store energy in chemical form, capacitors store energy in an electric field. Batteries typically possess greater energy densities than capacitors—they can store more energy for their weight. However, capacitors usually have greater power densities than batteries—they charge and discharge more quickly. This makes capacitors useful for applications involving pulses of power.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

No More Invasive Surgery—This Pacemaker Dissolves Instead

Temporary pacemakers are often vital but dangerous to remove when their jobs are done

3 min read
Animated gif of a device with a coil on one end dissolving between days 1 and 60.

The transient pacemaker, developed at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., harmlessly dissolves in the patient's body over time.

Northwestern University

After having cardiovascular surgery, many patients require a temporary pacemaker to help stabilize their heart rate. The device consists of a pulse generator, one or more insulated wires, and an electrode at the end of each wire.

The pulse generator—a metal case that contains electronic circuitry with a small computer and a battery—regulates the impulses sent to the heart. The wire is connected to the pulse generator on one end while the electrode is placed inside one of the heart’s chambers.

But there are several issues with temporary pacemakers: The generator limits the patient’s mobility, and the wires must be surgically removed, which can cause complications such as infection, dislodgment, torn or damaged tissues, bleeding, and blood clots.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

Modeling Microfluidic Organ-on-a-Chip Devices

Register for this webinar to enhance your modeling and design processes for microfluidic organ-on-a-chip devices using COMSOL Multiphysics

1 min read
Comsol Logo
Comsol

If you want to enhance your modeling and design processes for microfluidic organ-on-a-chip devices, tune into this webinar.

You will learn methods for simulating the performance and behavior of microfluidic organ-on-a-chip devices and microphysiological systems in COMSOL Multiphysics. Additionally, you will see how to couple multiple physical effects in your model, including chemical transport, particle tracing, and fluid–structure interaction. You will also learn how to distill simulation output to find key design parameters and obtain a high-level description of system performance and behavior.

Keep Reading ↓Show less