Ph.D. student designing wearable antennas; Specially for underserving communities to detect diseases

Student designs wearable antennas image

Dieff Vital, a qualified electrical and computer engineer, is known for designing wearable antennas on regular clothing using sewing machine which would help the people to monitor their health and fitness level. Vital grew up in Torbeck, Haiti and he clearly knows the struggle of people who cannot afford medical facilities. The idea of designing such equipment came when Haiti was struck by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, which caused lots of death, including Vital’s elder brother.

According to the latest News article, Vital has been working on the equipment which would charge biosensors, sewed in the clothes, that helps in monitoring the health progress of the person. His paper was selected for presentation in 2019 International Microwave Symposium and was worthy of praise. In the year of 2017, when Vital started his doctoral studies in the College of Engineering & Computing’s RFCOM Lab, his mentors John Volakis and Subhendu Bhardwaj who were the principal and assistant professor for the Department of electrical and computer engineering respectively, helped him in his research.

It is found that cell towers generate around 500-600 watt of power and only 1% of this power is used by the cell phones for sending and receiving signals. The rest of the energy remains scattered in the environment. The equipment designed by Vital would use this scattered energy to power up the biosensors in the clothing which would further be used for detecting and monitoring of diseases.

“You have a lot of people with critical health conditions dying,” said Vital in the interviews. “For individuals with diabetes, wounds are a serious concern. They need to monitor their wound to see if it’s healing and most of the time this requires them to frequently visit hospitals. It costs money and most of these people are denied health care.”

To make monitoring process accessible and cost-effective, Vital planned on designing this equipment which is the first step for the plan. The team is also planning on designing smart bandage which, when placed on the wound of a diabetic patient, help in monitoring the healing process of the person. In the International Microwave Symposium, Vital was selected among the 20 delegates out of 150, to present the final presentation before an audience full of non-technical people. His presentation was well accepted and he even received an honorable mention. 

“Explaining my technical activities to a non-technical audience was a bit of a challenge. Luckily, I had the help of conference organizers and one of them happened to have experience in theater. They showed me how to move my hands and keep the audience engaged.” said Vital during the interview. Vital won third place in the student doctoral competition along with Alfredo Gonzalez.

“Vital is an inspirational doctoral student who is using his expertise in power harvesting to make a difference in medically underserved communities. His hard work is being noticed at top conferences and by professionals I the field of RF and microwave engineering.” said Bhardwaj.

Meanwhile, Vital is collaborating with more doctoral students from the University of California to invent a bra with antennas which would help women detect breast cancer so that precautions could be taken beforehand and several lives could be saved. Being a doctoral student, Vital is doing a great job for society by using his knowledge for the betterment of the people. More people like Vital are needed to help in eradicating severe diseases from the world.

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