Show transcript

[Text appears on screen: Imagine your doctor using a network to check your health in real time]

[Image changes to show Sam]

Sam: My name is Sam, I am a researcher her at CSIRO in the field of telecommunication engineering. My research area is on interference mitigation between coexisting wireless Budii area networks, also known as wearable networks.

[Image changes to show a close up of Sam wearing glasses with a miniature camera attached and moves to show diagrams on a computer screen]

Wearable networks are composed of micro and nanotechnology sensory devices, they can be placed all over the human body and they even go down to ones bloodstream and monitor their each and every move.

[Image changes to show Sam operating a smart watch that she is wearing on her wrist]

[Image changes to show Sam and a colleague talking]

There is a vast area of application for these networks in both medical and non-medical  sector, for example, gaming, entertainment, sports training, sleep disorder, cancer detection and most importantly, remote patient monitoring.

[Image changes back to show diagrams on a computer screen]

One of the challenges we’ve faced was coordination between these networks. During my research I looked into the natural world and was inspired by synchronicity amongst fireflies.

[Image changes to show Sam watching fireflies fly around]

Hundreds and thousands of fireflies are amazingly able to synchronise themselves over a large area and without any directive force.

[Image changes to show Sam working on a laptop]

We were able to overcome this challenge by mimicking this synchronisation using computer programming.

[Image changes to show inside a hall setup with ropes and nets]

Outside my research I have many passions. Recently I’ve picked up trapeze and is somehow relevant to my research in a way, in terms of the timing.

[Image changes to show Sam stretching and dusting her hands with a white powder]

When I’m up there hanging on the bar and trying to get a catch, the most important thing is timing.

[Image changes to show Sam performing acrobatics on a trapeze]

This new appreciation of timing has sparked my creativity and sort of influenced my research in so many different an unexpected ways.

[CSIRO logo appears with text: Find out more csiro.au/seven]

Show transcript

Meet Samaneh

Working on technology with the potential to change the face of healthcare wouldn’t seem like the obvious direction for a telecommunications engineer, but Samaneh proves that skills combined with passion and creativity can answer questions the world has been asking for years.

It doesn’t seem obvious how a telecommunications engineer would be interested in and working within the healthcare industry – how are these two areas becoming interconnected?

Australia has an ageing population. We’re living longer and longer and currently it’s estimated that by 2055 there could be as many as 40,000 Australians aged over 100.

The obvious ramifications of a substantial increase in elderly people will put a phenomenal strain on a healthcare system that is already bursting at the seams.

However, new technology means new possibilities – as a person living in a connected world, I’m always wondering if there’s a better way to solve old problems, and as an engineer I have the capability to create new solutions to some of our most troubling issues.

What kind of new solutions have you and your team created that can take the burden off a struggling healthcare system?

One specific solution we believed would be helpful is if we could reduce the need to visit your doctor by finding a way to monitor your vitals remotely.

We are currently investigating a system called Wireless Body Area Networks (WBAN), which could be a pill or an implant. It is a network of tiny sensors that are able to monitor and collect information such as heart rate, blood pressure and temperature. We wanted to make sure that WBANs operate with minimal handling – in an ideal world, they will function with a long battery life and no interference from other networks.

This information would be transmitted to your local doctor, in real time, ensuring everyone is prepared in case of an emergency.

What is the potential impact of WBANs on the way healthcare could work in the future?

Being able to collect patient information in a more efficient manner solves a large resourcing problem in healthcare – it would allow doctors to provide more focused care on the people who need it the most.

WBANs could also provide an interconnected healthcare system. This means that no matter which pharmacy, doctor or hospital you visit anywhere in the world, they would have access to your medical history, providing tailored care that is second to none.

Another application is that ambulances could be deployed automatically if the sensors register an abnormal condition, which could have an enormous impact on the rate of accidental deaths of those who are unable to seek help in their moment of need.

The exciting thing about WBANs is that there is vast potential in terms of its applications – our work is not just limited to healthcare!

Facts & figures

Our future health challenges

  • The cost of public healthcare will be $125 billion by 2050
  • By 2050, 23 per cent will be over the age of 65 years
  • Wearable tech could help to ease the burden on the health system.

Wearable tech

  • Wearable tech could be worn as a device or clothing; implanted or swallowed as a pill
  • Most consumer wearable tech are activity or fitness trackers
  • Wearables are already being used in the military, medical and aerospace industries.

Find out more

Ask Samaneh a question or get the very latest news, stories and breakthroughs that will help you, your family and Australia.

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About CSIRO

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CSIRO is where creativity meets innovation, developing solutions to make a difference to you, our economy and the planet.

We imagine. We collaborate. We innovate.

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