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Giulia Sacco, a researcher in electronics, developing antennas for biomedical devices

- Published on 25/08/22

Dr Giulia Sacco is a researcher in bioelectromagnetics. She is currently working on her “Reach-IT” project at the Institut d’Electronique et des Technologies du Numérique (IETR) at Université de Rennes 1.

[BIENVENÜE team] Hello Giulia, how did you become interested in your research area?

[Dr Giulia Sacco] I have always been passionate about how technology and engineering can be used to help people and improve their quality of life. I started studying the interactions between electromagnetic fields and human body during my bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Sapienza University of Rome. In my PhD in collaboration between Sapienza University of Rome and Imec Netherlands I focused on the design and realization of radar devices for medical applications, and I developed solutions allowing for the localization and the health monitoring in complex indoor environments. This gave me the idea for REACH-IT project.

What is the REACH-IT project about?

REACH-IT will contribute to the new generation of electronic travel aids (ETA) for visually impaired people by proposing a fully wearable interface conformal to the user’s body.  All the available smart devices are typically bulky and realized in rigid materials. My project aims at improving the existing technology by proposing the first super-directive reconfigurable antennas for wearable applications.

Why it is important to address this issue?

Globally the number of people of all ages visually impaired is estimated to be 2.2 billion. Mobility and ability to navigate are critical skills for a person’s independence and quality of life. Conventional solutions involve the utilization of guide dogs, white canes and devices based on radar, lidar and/or ultrasound sensors. All these devices have drawbacks that still prevent the traveller to build up a mental map of the area. More specifically, the electronical travel aids are typically rigid and bulky. In addition, they inform the user only about nearby obstacles and are unable to give an identification of the object shape that would help the visually impaired person better understand and interact with the environment.

Why did you chose to work at the IETR?

IETR is one of the most important laboratories in telecommunications in France. It disposes of high-performance computing resources and of several metrological platforms that are essential for the project. These facilities include anechoic chambers for far-/nearfield characterisation from MHz- up to sub-THz-wave range, network analysers, and dielectric characterisation kits. In addition to the measurement facilities, IETR disposes also of fabrication facilities, including a cleanroom for microfabrication, laser ablation tools for rapid prototyping, 3D printers, and micromechanical tools.

The eWAVES group, in which I am currently working, has a unique experience in bioelectromagnetics, and in the design of solid phantoms at mmW ; it has a dedicated platform (Bioelectromagnetic Technical Platform) that includes a compact anechoic chamber for on-body antenna measurements at mmW-based on high-resolution IR imaging.

Thank you Giulia!

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