Humans May Form Backbone of Mobile Networks

In the future, small sensors carried by members of the public, in devices such as next-generation smartphones, may communicate with each other to create potentially vast body-to-body networks (BBNs).

This possibility is being investigated by engineers from Queen's Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT).

Ultra High Bandwidth

Researchers from Queen's University Belfast say the novel sensors could create new ultra high bandwidth mobile Internet infrastructures and also reduce the density of mobile phone base stations.

It is proposed that in future, members of the public could form the backbone of powerful new mobile Internet networks by carrying wearable sensors. The engineers of ECIT are researching this further based on the rapidly developing science of body-centric communications.

This research is expected to deliver significant improvements in mobile gaming and remote healthcare. It could also help precision monitoring of athletes and real-time tactical training in team sports.

Commercial Rewards

Interaction between the new sensors would ensure transmission of data and also provide 'anytime, anywhere' mobile network connectivity.

Dr Simon Cotton, from ECIT's wireless communications research group, said a significant amount of research has already been undertaken into antennas and systems designed to share information across the surface of the human body.

However, researchers still have to find out how that information can be transferred efficiently to an off-body location.

"If the idea takes off, BBNs 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," said Dr Cotton. "Success in this field will not only bring major social benefits, it could also bring significant commercial rewards for those involved. Even though the market for wearable wireless sensors is still in its infancy, it is expected to grow to more than 400 million devices annually by 2014."

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