Research Projects

2015 IoT Conference Presentations

What happened to the "things"? (PDF)

Big Data and How it Works (PDF)

The IoT runs through you (PDF)

The IoT connecting my knee to my phone (PDF)

The IoT just ticked my blood for speeding (PDF)

The IoT is up the Creek (PDF)

Is the IoT a victim of or a solution to Fracking? (PDF)

Internet of Things in Undergraduate Education (PDF)

GS1 AIDC Test Lab

Global commerce is a highly connected system where over one trillion items are sold and electronically scanned each year. Automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) mechanisms include bar codes, where the standards for commercial bar codes are established by the organization GS1, and ensure that the bar code on a product can be scanned anywhere in 111 different countries around the world. The RFID Center is home to the GS1 AIDC Test Lab, a test bed for new bar code capabilities and standards before they are implemented on a global basis, including enabling dynamic barcodes with built-in expiration dates, and multi-function bar codes for shipping, traceability, and marketing.

Tissue Variability and Adaptive Wireless Transcutaneous Systems

Wireless energy transfer provides a method of transcutaneously powering and communicating with implantable medical devices, while eliminating percutaneous wires and reducing the size of the implanted device. Tissue presents unique challenges as a wireless transmission medium in its structural complexity and dynamic properties. Even with measurements and empirical estimations of tissue properties, there exist uncertainties and variability of these properties according to parameters that vary among patients, across locations on the body, and over time. It is therefore necessary to understand how these variations affect electromagnetic energy transfer mechanisms and to develop adaptive methods to adjust parameters of a system in response to changes in the tissue environment.

Wireless Telemetry in Oil and Gas Wells

The demand for oil and gas in the United States has increased rapidly over the past two decades and, while advancements in horizontal well drilling and hydraulic fracturing have helped to meet this demand, additional attempts through the use of “smart wells” have been developed. These smart wells use sensors and control systems deployed permanently in the well and allow operators to monitor and shutdown poorly performing zones. While installation difficulties and the extreme environments have limited the widespread use of such technologies, a reliable telemetry method has yet to be developed that can be permanently utilized throughout the lifetime of the well. A wireless telemetry prototype is currently being investigated and developed for extended monitoring.

Stroke Monitoring

Almost 800,000 people each year in the US experience a stroke that results in weakness in one hand. Losing function of a hand impairs a person's ability to perform routine tasks, such as eating, dressing, and driving, resulting in loss of independence. Repeatedly practicing a task is the most effective treatment method. The developed prototype, in which three sensors are worn along the length of the arm (i.e., one on the hand, one on the forearm, and one on the upper arm), assists patients in their rehabilitation by providing local feedback for the number of times a joint angle is flexed past a threshold (i.e., indicating a repeated task). The data is downloaded from the prototype device for offline for post-processing.

Stent Antenna

Stents are wire mesh tubes inserted into arteries to restore blood flow when the vessels become blocked by debris, such as plaque and blood clots. While the antenna of an implanted system often adds significant bulk to an implanted device, a stent offers an already available conductor to use as an antenna. Implanted sensors and electronics can now communicate with base stations outside the body without adding significant bio-burden due to the implanted antenna.

Implantable Doppler Flow Meter

An implantable blood flow monitoring system using a miniature implantable monitor and an external transponder to provide clinicians with real-time and an easy-to-interpret display for assessing lost flow in transferred blocks of tissue, called free flaps. The system was tested in a swine animal model and successfully detected occlusive events in the peripheral veins in the lower limbs.

PennDOT Float-out Bridge Scour

Bridge scour has been the leading cause of bridge failures over the past 50 years. Bridge scour is defined as the erosion of river bed material because of flow conditions surrounding abutments supporting bridges. The RFID Center and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) have developed a float-out sensor monitoring solution that provides an inexpensive and low maintenance solution to remotely monitor scour levels. Each float-out sensor has been design with a 20-year lifetime utilizing custom tilt sensitive circuitry. Multiple float-out sensors are buried at various depths in the sediment surrounding the bridge. As sediment is removed, the buoyancy of the capsule forces it to rise to the surface and activate, transmitting a unique serial number to the receiver unit. The receiver unit provides a visual indication of the current scour level and has been designed to allow for the addition of a cellular modem to transmit the serial number of the released sensors for remote monitoring. The RFID Center is currently working with PennDOT to install these sensors on a bridge in Pennsylvania.

Ortho-tag and Implantable RFID

Following joint replacement surgeries, information such as the implant model and manufacturer must be retained for future reference. The Ortho-tag system was designed to provide a unique serial number that could be read wirelessly from an orthopedic implant, and formed the basis for a spin-off company, Ortho-tag Inc., in 2010. The Ortho-tag system consists of an implantable RFID tag mounted on or near an orthopedic implant, and a patented touch probe that reads the tag wirelessly through the skin. The tag information is then sent to a computer where it is linked to a patient database. Current research efforts include the addition of biosensors on the implanted tag to facilitate monitoring after surgery, and storage of additional information in memory on the implanted tag.

Fingertip Pulse Oximetry via Telemedicine

A fingertip pulse oximeter is a device used to measure the oxygen saturation in the blood and pulse rate. The use of fingertip pulse oximeters is widespread due to the noninvasive nature while providing a general indicator of oxygen delivery. Fingertip pulse oximeters system provided a platform to showcase remote patient monitoring over three wireless mediums: 915 MHz ISM band, Wi-Fi, and Cellular. While wearing a fingertip pulse oximeter, the information displayed on the local device can be displayed on another pulse oximeter, a mobile device, or a desktop computer.

Remote Pacemaker Programming via Telemedicine

A pacemaker or implantable cardiac device that is implanted in the shoulder area of a patient sends electrical pulses to the heart in response to irregularities in heartbeat (arrhythmia). Both the device configuration and battery lifetime must be monitored by a physician on a semiannual basis. To perform these adjustments, a patient must travel to the cardiologist’s office for a procedure taking no longer than 15 minutes. By allowing the cardiac device to be remotely programmed at the patient’s personal physician (PCP) or local medical facility, the cardiologist is able to interrogate and adjust the cardiac device with minimal burden on the patient, cardiologist and clinic scheduling. A remote pacemaker programming telemedicine system has been developed and tested with the guidance of physicians at UPMC.

Real-time Location System (i-RTLS)

The interface-real time location system (i-RTLS) provides a means of asset tracking within rooms. Assets are tagged with an active RFID transmitter, and transponders interface with the existing Wi-Fi infrastructure. The transponders partition the room into wireless zones. The transponders relay information, about a tagged asset's presence in a particular zone, to any Wi-Fi connected device, such as a phone or computer, to display the asset's location. Multiple transponders provide overlapping zones that increase the resolution of an asset's reported location.

RFID Center of Excellence