Discussion with Bill Kaiser, UCLA on Body Area Networks
In today’s discussion we focused on the applications coming up. Bill mentioned three of them:
1. Structural Health Monitoring -- measuring building stress under various loads (seismic, wind, etc). It must be battery powered for disaster scenarios.
2. Marine – sequencing power to communication systems with on-board sensors attached to buoys. The node needs a power scheduling system to preserve power and reduce maintenance cost.
3. Biomedical – using handheld devices with wearable sensors to monitor a person’s biomedical signals. By using appropriate duty-cycling he can conserve power on the node. They need an easy-to-use programming language for users in this area to implement their own systems. There’s increasing support throughout the campus for this application area.
Philips and Qualcomm are both pursuing a body area network system to provide bandwidth for high quality transmission of CD-quality audio over short range. Bill indicated that in just a few years, anyone with a medical condition will have a handheld device (a cell phone comes to mind) that would communicate with wearable sensors detecting heart rate, and other body signals. Standards are coming into place now through a Body Area Network (BAN) interest group within the 802.15 committee.
Here’s a PowerPoint slide set that outlines the applications and a few proposed requirements. This area is gaining increasing attention due to the progress of wireless sensor networks, wireless standards, and low power processors. Here’s an article showing a multi-tiered architecture for a telemedicine application.
Along with medical data come security requirements for protecting that data. Encryption and authentication become key elements in providing a viable system. Also, keeping the data in a meaningful form that can be archived and retrieved for future purposes comes up.
It’s an interesting area, and it certainly has the attention of a large number of departments at UCLA. Going forward, this will become a key application drawing substantial resources.