UMass Amherst 2019 Armstrong Award Given to Advance Research on Battery-less Wearable Sensors

Sunghoon (Ivan) Lee
Sunghoon (Ivan) Lee

AMHERST, Mass. – The Armstrong Fund for Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has announced its award for 2019 with a $40,000 grant to an interdisciplinary team that is developing battery-less wearable sensors powered through human skin.

The research team is Sunghoon (Ivan) Lee, assistant professor of computer science, and Yeon-sik Noh, assistant professor of nursing and electrical and computer engineering. They will receive the $40,000 for their two-year project “Enabling Battery-less Wearable Sensors via Intra-Body Power Transfer.”

The team will be recognized at the Faculty Honors Dinner on April 29.

Lee and Noh say their project aims to develop a novel concept of wirelessly transferring power through human skin to enable battery-less wearable sensors that can be ultra-miniaturized and ergonomically designed for placement on small body parts. Examples would be sensors designed for on-finger, in-ear, in-tooth or other places that would not accommodate on-device batteries.

“We believe that the proposed research, if successful, can lay the technological groundwork to transform current architectures and designs for body-area networks, promoting the development of innovative on-body sensors that have not been possible until now,” Lee and Noh say.

In making the award, Michael F. Malone, vice chancellor for research and engagement, told the team, “The selection committee viewed it very positively that you are bringing together an interdisciplinary team with significant expertise in wearable computing research to overcome a significant barrier to developing a new class of battery-less wearable devices.”

Malone says the proposal has the potential to establish UMass Amherst as an innovator in the field and can be expected to attract significant external funding from sponsors such as the National Science Foundation. He also says those are key criteria for securing funding from the Armstrong fund.

Malone administers Armstrong grants in a competitive proposal process. Benefactors John and Elizabeth Armstrong established their Fund for Science in 2006 to identify and support promising research directions that do not yet have enough data available for the principals to apply to standard funding channels.