The Beacon

The benefit of Wi-Fi® connectivity in wearable devices

June 15, 2016 by Jay White, Laird

In a short time, Wi-Fi has become a prolific and ubiquitous technology in hospitals. With the demand for wireless connectivity in medical settings on the rise and numerous benefits of wearable devices for patients and clinicians alike, Wi-Fi is well positioned to play a leading role in making the digital health vision a reality. Use of wireless-enabled wearable devices bring several benefits including reduced cable clutter, fewer accessories requiring infection control, increased patient comfort via smaller wearables devices, uninterrupted monitoring outside the hospital, and reduced recovery time by enabling patients to ambulate within the care area under continuous monitoring. In the digital health ecosystem, wearables allow user monitoring in real-time, anytime and anywhere, improving patient care and helping caregivers reduce time on administrative tasks.

Laird recognizes Wi-Fi’s growing role in hospitals. Medical devices are becoming increasingly mobile, and Wi-Fi can provide a flexible, secure, and interoperable solution for wireless connectivity, suitable for critical medical devices. However, along with these benefits comes the challenge of establishing standards. From security to RF infrastructure, hospital administrators must make informed decisions. Laird and the global network of members working in Wi-Fi Alliance help provide the guidance and resources necessary to unlock the full potential of Wi-Fi in medical environments.

Wi-Fi Alliance’s latest white paper, titled “Wireless Wearables: The Role of Wi-Fi in Enabling Digital Health”, addresses common questions among product developers, integrators, and anyone looking to leverage Wi-Fi technology in their wireless wearable devices. Readers will gain insight from industry experts on systems architectures, WLAN infrastructure design and deployment, as well as device-level feature support (e.g. device provisioning), appropriate Wi-Fi certifications, and radio/antenna integration.

Laird, in collaboration with other industry experts from the Wi-Fi Alliance’s Healthcare Market Segment Task Group, were primary contributors to this document. The white paper defines and outlines wireless wearables within the digital health ecosystem, typical radio frequency (RF) environments and use cases for wireless wearables as well as associated challenges and best practices, and relevant and associated Wi-Fi certification programs to deliver the optimal user experience through Wi-Fi connectivity.

Access the full white paper, here.

The statements and opinions by each Wi-Fi Alliance member and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions or views of Wi-Fi Alliance or any other member. Wi-Fi Alliance is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information provided by any member in posting to or commenting on this blog. Concerns should be directed to info@wi-fi.org.

Comments

I have some of the earliest patents describing the concepts incorporated into IEEE 802.11. In 5,029,183, issued in July, 1991, I described a protocol and a network in which the remote devices could remain powered down for milliseconds to millennia to conserve power in low bandwidth applications, but still have fast response. These low power techniques are still part of the standard, but not utilized as often as they could be. Wireless wearables should exploit these techniques wherever possible.
Also, the emerging use of the LED for area lighting opens the door to VLC/VLP (Visible Light Communication/Visible Light Positioning). I believe that VLC/VLP is well suited to hospital and home network applications and could be integrated into the 802.11/WiFi standard. The possibility of vast amounts of unregulated bandwidth being available to low cost wearable devices is too exciting to ignore.

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Jay White

Laird

Jay White is the Product Manager of Wi-Fi products (modules and antennas) for Laird Connectivity. He has over 10 years of experience in the wireless industry and has a passion for improving healthcare and patient outcomes through the use of wireless communications. He is an active member of the Wi-Fi Alliance Healthcare Marketing Task Group, AAMI Wireless Strategic Task Force, Center for Medical Interoperability, and HIMSS.