'New wireless devices will save lives' says Ofcom

Ofcom says more radio spectrum is needed for new wireless technologies - the benefits of which could include warning doctors about heart attacks and the prevention of cars from colliding with each other.

A new Ofcom report released today entitled 'Tomorrow's Wireless World' has made predictions about advances and innovations, which could be available in the next 10 or 20 years. Most involve transport and healthcare but some also touch other areas of everyday life such as entertainment and commerce.

In healthcare the report predicts an 'in-body network', implanted within a patient's body, which would enable doctors to remotely examine their progress.

It describes on-body monitors, that check pulse and blood pressure, with the signal sent wirelessly to portable monitors, and 'intelligent' pill dispensers that would sound an alarm if they weren't opened at the required time.

"Our lives continue to be transformed by developments in wireless technology," said Professor William Webb, head of research and development at Ofcom.

"Ofcom's research and development report highlights how a range of innovative new technologies could enhance transport and healthcare. It helps Ofcom plan for future spectrum use to benefit citizens and consumers".

The report also describes wireless technology for food. This could enable people to scan the content of food wrappers using existing Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, which would be particularly useful for those with food allergies.

In transport it predicts intelligent systems where cars communicate wirelessly with each other to prevent collisions. In-car wireless technology would also automatically alert emergency services in the event of an accident as car-to car-communication would alert drivers to traffic jams.

It would also revealed more developments in e-transport systems, where one e-ticket could be used on all modes of transport, be it buses, trains and planes, simplying travel arrangements.

Peter Ingram, Ofcom's chief technology officer, said: "This report demonstrates the many creative ways the radio spectrum can be used for the benefit of UK citizens and consumers."

However, Ofcom made it clear that radio spectrum needs to be better managed. It said that spectrum was a finite resource, and that its technology research would help it better understand how to use it in the future.