Smart Body Area Networks

Body Area Network (BAN) technology is the use of small, low power wireless devices which can be carried or embedded inside or on the body. Applications include:

  • health and wellness monitoring
  • sports training (e.g. to measure performance)
  • personalized medicine (e.g. heart monitors)
  • personal safety (e.g. fall detection)

A number of wireless BAN communication technologies have been implemented, based on existing radio technologies. However, if BAN technology is to achieve its full potential, there is need for a more specific and dedicated technology, optimized for BAN. For example, solutions for monitoring people during exercise one or two hours a day, a few days a week, may not be suitable for 24/7 monitoring as part of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Such a dedicated BAN technology would need features such as:

  • ultra-low power radio, with a lower complexity Medium Access Control (MAC) protocol for extended autonomy
  • enhanced robustness in the presence of interference
  • interoperability when communicating over heterogeneous networks in the future IoT

Smart Body Area Network (BAN) technology uses small, low power devices to support a range of medical, health improvement, personal safety and wellbeing, sport and leisure applications. However, various challenges have been identified which hinder the development of BAN communications. For example, solutions that may be suitable for monitoring people during exercise one or two hours a day, a few days a week, fall short of what is needed for 24/7 monitoring in the Internet of Things (IoT). A number of wireless BAN communication technologies have been implemented, based on existing radio technologies, but there is need for a more specific and dedicated technology, optimized for BAN. This would require the inclusion of features such as ultra-low power radio, with a lower complexity Medium Access Control (MAC) protocol for extended autonomy, enhanced robustness in the presence of interference, and interoperability when communicating over heterogeneous networks in the IoT. Other key issues to be addressed include Quality of Service and security.

Future SmartBANs will exist within an IoT environment. Noting this coexistence, ETSI TC SmartBAN (SBAN) extended its work via contributions to various bodies both within ETSI (including SmartM2M and ERM TG 30), as well as external bodies including AIOTI (Alliance for the Internet of Things Innovation) and the ITEA’s CareWare project.

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