Wireless Body Area Networks (WBAN)

A Wireless Body Area Network (WBAN) connects independent nodes (e.g. sensors and actuators) that are situated in the clothes, on the body or under the skin of a person. The network typically expands over the whole human body and the nodes are connected through a wireless communication channel. According to the implementation, these nodes are placed in a star or multihop topology.

A WBAN offers many promising new applications in the area of remote health monitoring, home/health care, medicine, multimedia, sports and many other, all of which make advantage of the unconstrained freedom of movement a WBAN offers. In the medical field, for example, a patient can be equipped with a wireless body area network consisting of sensors that constantly measure specific biological functions, such as temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, electrocardiogram (ECG), respiration, etc. The advantage is that the patient doesn’t have to stay in bed, but can move freely across the room and even leave the hospital for a while. This improves the quality of life for the patient and reduces hospital costs. In addition, data collected over a longer period and in the natural environment of the patient, offers more useful information, allowing for a more accurate and sometimes even faster diagnosis.

An important step in the development of a WBAN is the characterization of the physical layer of the network, including an estimation of the delay spread and the path loss between two nodes on the body. This requires a detailed characterization of the electromagnetic wave propagation and antenna behavior near the human body.