People using smartphone

While 5G technology is still being deployed in certain areas, scientists and engineers are already planning for the 6th generation of wireless communication. 

Visible light communication (VLC), which employs light in the range of 380 to 700 nanometres, that is, light visible to human eyes, is one of the proposed 6G technologies. This technique is considered a viable alternative for 6G since it can be broadcast via LED lights, ubiquitous in our daily lives, and received by any device equipped with a camera.

However, there is a disadvantage to VLC, which are radio waves, known as RF, which have been seen to arise during the transmission of information. This wastes substantial energy that could be utilized for other reasons. A team of scientists from the University of Massachusetts Amherst has offered an intriguing solution to this problem — utilizing humans as antennas.

The scientists proposed a 6G technology that would utilize humans in various ways, including information transmission and receiving, as well as the utilization of leftover energy. They built an antenna out of coiled copper wire to detect energy leakage and tested it on various surfaces, including wood, cardboard, plastic, and steel. However, they discovered that when the coil came in touch with the human body, it was most efficient in capturing energy losses.

This pushed the team to create Bracelet+, a bracelet worn on the upper forearm. According to the researchers, depending on the consumer’s preferences, it may also be customized to be worn as a ring, belt, anklet, or pendant. The bracelet costs approximately 50 cents to create, and the energy harvesting is good enough to be directed into smartphone apps such as health monitoring apps.

The concept of using humans as antennae for 6G technology is intriguing, but it remains to be seen if the public would embrace it. With the rise of mobile phone conspiracy theories and the production of anti-radiation mattresses, finding someone ready to wear such a bracelet may be difficult. However, because 6G technology is a few years away, the team has time to work on enhancements and handle any issues.

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