Flexible Antennas for Wearable Technologies

Flexible Antennas for Wearable Technologies

Amal Afyf, Bellarbi Larbi, Fatima Riouch, Mohamed Adel Sennouni, Yaakoubi Nourdin
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5484-4.ch018
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Having the merits of being light-weight, energy efficient, in addition to low manufacturing cost, reduced fabrication complexity, and the availability of inexpensive flexible substrates, flexible and wearable technology is being established as an appealing alternative to the conventional electronics technologies which are based on rigid substrates. Furthermore, wearable antennas have been a topic of interest for more than the past decade, and hundreds of scientific papers can be found on the subject. This large number of publications asks for some classification in order to get an overview of the trends and challenges. To this aim, an overview of antennas for wearable technologies is proposed. This chapter is organized into three major sections. In the first part, a detailed review of wearable antennas is presented. The second part of this project deals with the flexible antennas parameters and families. Materials and fabrication methods are discussed in the third part. Wearables advantages, disadvantage and challenges are summarized in the last section.
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The terms “wearable technology”, “wearable devices”, and “wearables” all refer to electronic technologies or computers that are incorporated into items of clothing and accessories which can comfortably be worn on the body. For example, one function of an activity bracelet takes raw data from a sensor, processes it and generates a report on the number of steps taken over a given period. Sensors track motion with enough intelligence to distinguish between steps and other movements.

Sensors/ Antennas are an important part of wearable electronics, and continue to become smaller and more sophisticated. While there are many types of sensors that can be used, the most common is an inertial measurement unit (Accelerometer). An accelerometer can track a specific movement, its direction, and its intensity or speed. One simple example of an accelerometer is when a mobile phone or tablet (the input) is rotated and the device processes the movement and rotates the screen accordingly (the output). Other common sensors including pressure, temperature, position and humidity, support applications such as GPS. Consistently, wearable and flexible devices would often require the integration of antennas operating in specific frequency bands to provide wireless connectivity which is greatly demanded by modern information-oriented consumers. The aim of this study is to provide an overview of the current status and future perspectives in research and development of wearable technologies and sensors, to afford a comprehensive guide to various technologies and methods applied in the realization of flexible and wearable technologies along with state of the art antenna designs and implementations. Moreover, this document serves as an extensive reference in wearable topics. For these goals, it is necessary to define the field of wearable systems.

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