Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Seeking a body-friendly net

A relatively new IEEE group (802.15.6) has put out a call for proposals for body-area network technology. They seek a “standard optimized for low power devices and operation on, in or around the human [or animal] body to serve a variety of applications including medical, consumer electronics and more.”

Tech requirements include support for a quality of service scheme, extremely low power, and data rates up to 10 Mbits/s. In addition, applications need to consider the so-called Specific Absorption Rate of different body types. They must also respect limits for transmit power in US to less than 1.6 mW and in EU to less than 20 mW.

The group aims to attract to its March meeting in Orlando giant medical electronic and consumer companies to weigh in on what they think will be the big apps for a wireless BAN and the technologies required to serve them. “This is a personal area network with the characteristics of the body in mind,” said Arthur Astrin who chairs the group.

I bumped into Astrin in a medical electronics session at ISSCC this week. Plenty of candidates for this work here i9ncluding developers of wristwatches and disposable band-aids that act as wireless monitors, deep brain implants and much more.

It could be a decade too early, but I think this will be one of the most interesting new wireless areas to watch.

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