Body Powered Sensor Systems for Health and Environment

This talk from Microsoft Research by Tom Snyder (link below) solicits partners to collaborate in the development of new body sensor platform for use in medical applications. He represent NSF Advanced Self-Powered Integrated Sensors and Technologies (ASSIST) organization of Universities and industry. Their goal is to reduce size of sensors to nano-scale and to remove reliance on external power sources such as batteries, instead harvesting energy from the body. They are looking at thermoelectric (temperature differential) and kinetic sources. They are presently researching external sensors, although it possible they will consider implants in the future. Biggest limitation is wireless communication since it consumes significant energy and requires external power sources. Maybe something like an oscillating grapheme drum would be a good option..

Their vision is to:

  • Enable correlation between personal health and personal environment.
  • Empower patients and doctors to manage wellness, lowering health costs and improving global health.
  • Engage industry, government, medical practitioners, scientists, and engineers for transformational impact.

Their mission is:

To transform global health by creating self-powered, wearable systems for personal environmental and health monitoring and wellness monitoring, enabled by nanotechnologies.

This shows a wrist band that harvests energy from thermoelectricity


Schematic representation of the body area network (BAN)


Micro-scale of things


State of the art wearable devices


Energy available from the body
  • Heat
  • Motion
  • Ambient light
  • Directed energy
    • Light
    • Radio frequency
  • Exotic
    • Blood glucose


The following quote is from the talk @Microsoft:

Through nanotechnology research, ASSIST is building wearable sensor systems for the purpose of dramatically improving health and environment informatics. The talk will overview efforts in energy harvesting off the human body, sub-threshold CMOS research for ultra-low power devices and nano-enabled sensors. ASSIST is combining these technologies into wearable form factors for widespread market adoption and clinical approval. As users gain ability to monitor personal health parameters and personal environmental exposures real-time, the ability to manage wellness increases. Big data analytics of this network of wearable health devices will allow better advisement of environmental policy.


Talk @ Microsoft by Tom Snyder

ASSIST – Advanced Self-Powered Integrated Sensors and Technologies


NC State University

Idea outline


IEEE releases new standard for body area network


Energy harvesting

Nanosystems Engineering Research Center On Self-Powered Health Monitoring

Nanomechanical FM transmitter is smallest yet

Highly integrated wireless sensing for body area network applications

Flexible circuit mounted on contact lens

Wear-a-BAN, for unobtrusive wearable human-to-machine interfaces. Website of EU project 242473
On-body propagation performance with textile antennas at 867MHz M. Hirvonen, C. Böhme, D. Severac, M. Maman, IEEE Trans. Antennas Propagat. 61(4), p. 2195-2199, 2013. doi:10.1109/TAP.2012.2234713
A novel packaging concept for electronics in textile UHF antennas C. Boehme, R. Vieroth, M. Hirvonen, Proc. 45th Int’l Symp. Microelectron., p. 425-432, 2012.
Cost-effective and miniaturized System-on-Chip based solutions for portable medical & BAN applications D. Manic, D. Severac, E. Le Roux, V. Peiris, Proc. 5th Int’l Symp. Med. Inf. Commun. Technol., p. 15-19, 2011. doi:10.1109/ISMICT.2011.5759787
BATMAC: an adaptive TDMA MAC for body area networks performed with a space-time dependent channel model M. Maman, L. Ouvry, Proc. 5th Int’l Symp. Med. Inf. Commun. Technol., p. 1-5, 2011. doi:10.1109/ISMICT.2011.5759784

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