The budding field of Body Area Networks gives new meaning to the term "personal" in PCs. In a nutshell, the technology leverages wireless communications protocols that allow for low-powered sensors to communicate with one another and transmit data to a local base station and to remote places like hospitals. For instance, small flat sensors placed on the skin, or even under it, could be used to create a "medical" body area network that provides doctors with real-time data about their patients' bio-signs. Another key application is short-range person-to-person communications that could help protect front line soldiers in combat. BAN technology is still in its infancy and mainstream adoption is still over the horizon as engineers and researchers work to overcome challenges involving interoperability, sensor design constraints (i.e. power and complexity), privacy, and security to name a few. Once these issues are overcome, expect BANs to first revolutionize healthcare allowing for concepts liketelemedicine and mHealth to become real, and potentially allow for groundbreaking uses in communications, security, and sports. Below, in no particular order, is a list of facts, news, and generally good things to know about BANs: 1.
IEEE 802.15 Task Group 6 is on the case
Established 2 years ago, the IEEE BAN task group is "developing a communication standard optimized for low power devices and operation, in or around the human body (but not limited to the human body) to serve a variety of applications..." A few weeks ago, the organization ratified IEEE 802.15.3c-2009, which defines how to design interoperable WPAN (wireless personal area network) equipment that provides a range of data rates, ad-hoc connectivity, video streaming, quality of service, reliability and security. 2.
Primitive technologies spell an alphabet soup of overlapping acronyms •
MBANs - Medical Body Area Networks
BSN -Body Sensor Network
PAN- Personal Area Network or (WPAN for wireless)
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