Sensor Networks

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  • Topic: OSI model, Wireless sensor network, Sensor
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Sensors 2012, 12, 14730-14773; doi:10.3390/s121114730
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sensors
ISSN 1424-8220 www.mdpi.com/journal/sensors Review

A Review of Protocol Implementations and Energy Efficient Cross-Layer Design for Wireless Body Area Networks Laurie Hughes 1, Xinheng Wang 2,* and Tao Chen 3
1

2 3

College of Engineering, Swansea University, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK; E-Mail: 515702@swansea.ac.uk School of Computing, University of the West Scotland, Paisley PA1 2BE, Scotland, UK Chigoo Interactive Technologies Ltd, Wuxi 214028, China; E-Mail: chent@chigoo.net

* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail: xinheng.wang@uws.ac.uk; Tel.: +44-141-848-3330; Fax: +44-141-848-3542. Received: 1 September 2012; in revised form: 17 October 2012 / Accepted: 22 October 2012 / Published: 2 November 2012

Abstract: The issues inherent in caring for an ever-increasing aged population has been the subject of endless debate and continues to be a hot topic for political discussion. The use of hospital-based facilities for the monitoring of chronic physiological conditions is expensive and ties up key healthcare professionals. The introduction of wireless sensor devices as part of a Wireless Body Area Network (WBAN) integrated within an overall eHealth solution could bring a step change in the remote management of patient healthcare. Sensor devices small enough to be placed either inside or on the human body can form a vital part of an overall health monitoring network. An effectively designed energy efficient WBAN should have a minimal impact on the mobility and lifestyle of the patient. WBAN technology can be deployed within a hospital, care home environment or in the patient’s own home. This study is a review of the existing research in the area of WBAN technology and in particular protocol adaptation and energy efficient cross-layer design. The research reviews the work carried out across various layers of the protocol stack and highlights how the latest research proposes to resolve the various challenges inherent in remote continual healthcare monitoring. Keywords: WBAN; energy efficient; cross layer design; QoS; protocol stack; life signs monitoring

Sensors 2012, 12 1. Introduction

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The increasing life expectancy in most developed nations and the inherent costs of caring for an aging population have driven the advancement of technology-based sensor devices that can remotely monitor key vital life signs. Traditional methods of monitoring the health of human patients have meant wired connectivity to static measuring equipment, usually hospital-based. This requires the patient to be static for fixed periods of time and involves the close supervision by health practitioners. Patients recovering from critical illnesses are kept in hospital for long periods of time tying up beds and health practitioners’ time. The development of wireless sensors that can be placed either inside or on the human body, coupled with the remote healthcare management of patients, has the potential to revolutionize health management in the 21st century. These systems can be deployed within hospital environments, elderly care homes, or in the patients’ own home or workplace. This technology could offer step-changing improvements in patient’s quality of life with positive effects on mobility and ability to conduct everyday activities. Sensor technology incorporated as part of a Wireless Body Area Network (WBAN) can monitor key physiological signals such as blood pressure (BP), electrocardiograms (ECG), blood oxidization and blood glucose levels. The data transmitted from each of the sensors can be collected locally via a purpose built “sink” or Body Control Unit (BCU) and uploaded via a gateway to remote monitoring centers. Here the data can be remotely monitored by healthcare professionals and systems developed to track key physiological signs. The MobiHealth project [1] provides a good example of this type of architecture where a...
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