A group of Welsh scientists is currently developing a smart bandage with sensors that can connect to 5G networks and are planning to trial their invention within a year. Researchers from the Swansea University's Institute of Life Science are leading the development of the device which will take advantage of 5G networks to effectively monitor medical conditions and progress of patients through connected devices. The smart bandage features nanosensors that monitor important vital statistics of a patient and the device is intended to be 3D-printed with the goal of achieving lower manufacturing costs. Smart bandages aim to reduce patient treatment times and allow for the development of individualized treatments that will include not only prescriptions and surgery but also lifestyle changes, scientists revealed. Smart bandages may also allow for rapid modifications of treatment protocol depending on the progress of healing through quicker and more comprehensive monitoring.
The use of smart bandages is just one of the new use cases based on 5G networks. As 5G networks support lower latency and increased bandwidth compared to existing solutions, more sensor-equipped devices can be connected to the Internet. For example, Southwestern Wales, the region where researchers developing the smart bandage plan to conduct their testing, has a population of around a million people and the rollout of smart bandages to a substantial portion of its population requires a more capable network that can relay important medical information to doctors taking care of the patients in a timely and reliable manner.
The development of 5G technologies is now moving more quickly than ever before, as wireless carriers continue to test 5G equipment and implementation solutions. While regulators are yet to determine final standards, initial tests of 5G networks are already showing some promising results. In Finland, Nokia and Elisa recently tested 5G technologies in the 3.5GHz band, a frequency which allows for both massively improved internet speeds and larger coverage area. In the United States, major carriers have been testing their 5G networks and are planning to commercialize them, albeit in a limited scale, by 2020. In fact, AT&T and Verizon already started rolling out their 5G testing equipment in certain urban areas.