Antennas and Propagation of Implanted RFIDs for Pervasive Healthcare Applications

  • Andrea Sani, Marie Rajab, Robert Foster, Yang Hao
  • Proceedings of the IEEE, September 2010, Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
  • DOI: 10.1109/jproc.2010.2051010

What is it about?

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology is a way of tagging objects and people with devices that respond to polls with information. This could be as simple as a unique identification number (similar to barcodes), which can aid in inventory management and tracking, or it can include more details, such as basic electronic health records for patients, or even recent sensor readings integrated with the RFID chip (e.g., temperature). This paper focuses on health care applications of implantable RFID chips, examining the effect of body tissues on the antenna design and propagation performance.

Why is it important?

RFID is one element behind the "Internet of Things", which covers a number of possible application areas, such as smart buildings, environmental monitoring, and personal health monitoring. Introducing RFID chips into human bodies has been suggested for various applications, but there are various trade-offs involved. This paper investigates some of the trade-offs related to operating range, antenna design and operating frequency.


Dr Robert N Foster
University of Birmingham

Although some years old now, the question of implantable devices for identification, security and health care applications is still relevant. Indeed, RFID is a key enabler behind the growth of the "Internet of Things", whether implanted or used in the environment. One of the key contributions concerns the read range for the RFID chip; some applications requiring high security only need ranges of a few millimetres or so, and the implants can be correspondingly small. Others, such as in-building tracking for first-responders (fire-fighters and other emergency service personnel), may require tens of metres. Choice of frequency, antenna design and implantation location all affect the range. Personally, I think the jury is still out for the majority of people whether this technology is desirable in the mainstream, but there are definite applications in military and security where research like this is important.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Robert N Foster

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