Activity report 2018

Technical Committee (TC) Smart Body Area Network (SmartBAN)

Chairman: John Farserotu, CSEM

Responsible for standardisation to support the development and implementation of Smart Body Area Network (BAN) technologies (Wireless BAN, Personal BAN, Personal Networks, etc.) in health, wellness, leisure, sport and other domains.

The use of wearables and body sensor devices is growing rapidly in the Internet of Things (IoT). At the same time, the emerging field of digital health represents a convergence of digital technologies and health.

Wireless Body Area Networks (BAN) offer a means of connectivity to facilitate the sharing of data, interaction and interoperability in environments such as smart homes, living environments, automotive and aerospace.

In the specific areas of medical and health monitoring, equipment and systems are moving towards the trend of wireless connectivity between the data collection or control centre and the medical devices or sensing nodes. Therefore, the need for a standardized communication interface and protocols between actors is required. This network of actors performing some medical monitoring or other functions is referred to as a Smart Body Area Network (SmartBAN).

The SmartBAN initiative aims at a ‘smart’ solution for BANs with improved and dedicated performance for medical, health improvement and sport and leisure applications, further to existing BAN standards. It covers:

  • communication and the associated physical (PHY) layer and the medium access control (MAC) layer
  • network layer, security, Quality-of-Service (QoS) and provision of generic applications and services
  • a star network around a ‘smart’ hub such as a handset or a watch, with the option for a multi-hop relay.

The challenges for BAN include interoperability in heterogeneous use cases, low power, low latency, security, robust operation and the ability to interact with embedded intelligence in smart environments.

In response to these and other challenges, our Smart BAN committee (TC SmartBAN) addresses the need for global standards to support the successful market roll-out of BAN technology. Working in close co-operation with ETSI’s Smart Machine-to-Machine communications committee (TC SmartM2M), TC SmartBAN:

  • targets a more efficient MAC and PHY, tailored to health and medical applications (e.g. low power).
  • provides additional semantic and data analytic enablers (e.g. semantic discovery, reasoning / rules) and automatic node discovery such as semantic discovery of nodes or composition
  • provides added robustness via forward error correction
  • supports operation across heterogeneous networks with enhanced interoperability/connectivity options, including data, network and semantic interoperability.

In 2018 TC SmartBAN published a Technical Report providing a system level description and possible use cases for Smart Body Area Networks.

Progress was made on a Technical Specification, detailing service and application standardized enablers and interfaces, APIs and infrastructure for interoperability management for SmartBANs.

A New Work Item (NWI) on implant communication was initiated in 2018, in cooperation with ETSI ERM TG 30, as well as a NWI on security, privacy and trust.

Work was also launched on a comparative analysis between SmartBAN and other short-range standards.

During the year the committee strengthened its involvement alongside other ETSI committees – notably TC CYBER and TC SmartM2M – in our eHEALTH project. This work has focused on mapping latest eHealth developments to areas including security, privacy, safety and SAREF, our Smart Applications REFerence ontology. A notable output of this activity was a White Paper to raise awareness of eHealth and demonstrate the need for standards to support the rapid development of technology-driven medical services. 

The use of wearables and body sensor devices is a rapidly growing use case in the Internet of Things (IoT) – the focus of a workshop on ‘Connected Things for Wellbeing and Health’ held during ETSI IoT Week in October.