Tyndall National Institute Designs Wearable IoT Antennas With NI AWR Software
Tyndall National Institute is one of Europe’s leading research centers in information and communications technology (ICT) and is also the largest research facility of its type in Ireland. Tyndall excels in four core research areas; photonics, microsystems, micro/nanoelectronics, and theory modeling/design. Specific to the latter, the Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) Group is developing next-generation wireless sensor network technology for Science Foundation Ireland’s world leading Connect Centre for Future Networks (connectcentre.ie). As part of this research, Dr. John Buckley is developing antennas for wearable Internet of Things (IoT) applications.
The Design Challenge
The design of wearable IoT wireless sensor devices presents several design challenges specific to the antenna. In particular, the integration of the antenna into the overall IoT solution must fit into a tight footprint (ie, limited space). Also, when in its “wearable” configuration, the presence of the body can greatly influence the antenna performance. Electromagnetic (EM) modeling is therefore generally required to analyze and optimize on-body antenna performance. However, EM modeling using analysis methods such as finite element method (FEM) and method of moments (MoM) requires significant model complexity and computation time. Therefore, a key challenge of the work was to quickly develop accurate circuit models in order to efficiently analyze “wearable” antennas.
The WSN Group developed a model of an antenna in close proximity to the human body. After evaluating many types of RF simulation software, it was found that NI AWR Design Environment, specifically Microwave Office circuit design software was perfectly suited for this work. It helped the design team arrive at optimal solutions quickly and in a productive manner and the optimization features in the software enabled fast and efficient determination and verification of the equivalent circuit parameters.
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