5G 'Skin' Could Kickstart mmWave Medical Applications

It puts the 5G on its skin, or it gets the hose again!

You knew that some pretty unusual concepts were going to arise with the development of 5G right? Well, this is one of those!

Researchers developing "transistor active devices" at the University of Madison-Wisconson have a new stretchy circuit that can be worn like skin for wireless biomedical monitoring applications, like remotely monitoring a patient's vital signs without a mess of cables. The team, led by Professor Zhenqiang (Jack) Ma, is describing the "skin" made of integrated circuits (ICs) as "5G" because it is designed to operate in the millimeter wave (mmWave) bands.

Milimeter waves are expected to be one of the building blocks of 5G, helping the new wireless technology to achieve multi-gigabit-per second speeds. The high-frequency bands reside between 30 GHz and 300 GHz. (See AT&T to Start 5G 'Friendly' Trial by 2016 End.)

The "skin" currently operates at 40 GHz.

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"We've found a way to integrate high-frequency active transistors into a useful circuit that can be wireless," said Ma, whose work was supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, in a university article on the news. "This is a platform. This opens the door to lots of new capabilities."

Indeed, a 5G wearable skin could undoubtedly open up applications beyond medical in the burgeoning Internet of Things (IoT) market. The second phase of the 5G specification, expected to be completed in 2019, is supposed to support "massive IoT" deployments, meaning millions upon of millions of autonomous networked devices on a network.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

kq4ym 6/14/2016 | 7:53:43 AM
Re: mmWave and skin don't normally go together Yes it does seems this will be an interesting application for mmWave one as pointed out the material science portion of the technology gets worked out. As a possible low profile "skin" such IoT devices could prove a bit more elegant than our typical hardware solutions.
petercf 6/1/2016 | 5:18:23 PM
mmWave and skin don't normally go together The only way this works is if you use metamaterials to couple the RF through the skin, as skin with all its water is a pretty effective barrier to RF.


There are many projects ongoing around use of mmWave as a replacement for X-rays - it could work but needs immense processing power to understand the signals coming back - eventually the algorythms will be compressed into an app.


There is lots yet to be uncovered here - but, and I say but none of it is 5G, its just mmWave.
DanJones 6/1/2016 | 2:30:57 PM
I'm holding out... I'm holding out for a 5G hat.
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