Wireless body area networks. What is it really?

Modern technology changed our lives dramatically. Almost all of us in modern societies have a cell phone, mp3 player, a watch and sometimes some more gadgets in our pockets or other parts of our body. Even if they incorporate Bluetooth, which by the way is very power hungry, they are most of the time not connected together. The idea behind Wireless Body Area networks, which comes from the medical circles, states that there should be a network between all devices we have on us. Such a network should allow devices to communicate on short distances (2 meters is maximum due to the size of average human being), but what is even more important with ultra low power consumption.

As you could read a moment ago, the idea behind this technology comes from medical environment, specifically hospitals. During hospitalization period a patient has to be monitored by many different sensors. If you really think about it there exist many different monitoring systems, each having its most suitable place on human body and each collecting data that has to be sent to the central point. Such sensors are for example (Jaff, 2009):

  • An ECG sensor for monitoring heart activity
  • An EMG sensor for monitoring muscle activity
  • An EEG sensor for monitoring brain electrical activity
  • A SpO2 sensor for monitoring blood oxygen saturation
  • A cuff-based pressure sensor for monitoring blood pressure
  • A resistive or piezoelectric chest belt sensor for monitoring respiration
  • A blood glucose level sensor
  • A temperature sensor for monitoring body temperature
  • A location sensor (e.g., GPS) to track user’s location
  • Accelerometer-based motion sensors to estimate type and level of user’s activities
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