Humans could form wireless nodes for high speed networks

Posted by Staff writer

Now, this is a weird one. A team of Irish engineers says it could be possible to minimise the need for mobile base stations by getting phone users to act as base stations themselves.

They say it could lead to vast improvements in mobile gaming and remote healthcare, along with new precision monitoring of athletes and real-time tactical training in team sports.

The researchers from Queen's University Belfast are  investigating how small sensors carried by members of the public in items such as smartphones, could communicate with each other to create potentially vast body-to-body networks (BBNs). The sensors would interact to transmit data, providing 'anytime, anywhere' mobile network connectivity.

"In the past few years, a significant amount of research has been undertaken into antennas and systems designed to share information across the surface of the human body," says the university's Dr Simon Cotton.

"Until now, however, little work has been done to address the next major challenge which is one of the last frontiers in wireless communication – how that information can be transferred efficiently to an off-body location."

He says these body-to-body networks could bring significant healthcare improvements through the use of bodyworn sensors for widespread, routine monitoring and treatment of illness away from medical centres.

"If the idea takes off, BBNs could also lead to a reduction in the number of base stations needed to service mobile phone users, particularly in areas of high population density," he says.

"This could help to alleviate public perceptions of adverse health associated with current networks and be more environmentally friendly, due to the much lower power levels required for operation."