IEEE introduces standard for body area networking

IEEE, the world’s largest professional association advancing technology for humanity, today announced a new standard, IEEE 802.15.6TM-2012, optimized to serve wireless communications needs for ultra-low power devices operating in or around the human body.

Created for a variety of applications, IEEE 802.15.6-2012 is designed to address and compensate for the effects of a body on network performance. It will help enable a new generation of wireless implantable devices, assist in the development of new opportunities for delivering better healthcare as well as support other innovative uses for wearable computing devices.

IEEE 802.15.6-2012 specifies a short range, low power, and reliable wireless communication protocol for use in close proximity to, or inside, a human body. Data rates, up to 10 Mbps, are offered to serve a wide and evolutionary set of personal entertainment and healthcare services.

The standard helps support the combination of security, reliability, quality of service, low power, data rate and interference protection needed to address the breadth of unique body area network applications not supplied by other wireless communications standards.

“The IEEE Standards Association is a global leader and innovator in communications standards development and this standard is in keeping with that tradition,” said Art Astrin, chair of the IEEE 802.15.6 Task Group. “It underscores our commitment to the realization of a true body area network to meet the challenges of achieving far-ranging and futuristic solutions for healthcare, prosthetics, implants and a variety of novel consumer uses.”

Examples of the applications served by the IEEE 802.15.6-2012 standard include routine diagnostic testing such as EEGs (electroencephalogram), ECGs (electrocardiogram) and monitoring of vital signals such as temperature, heart rate, oxygen, and blood pressure.

It may also find use in automated drug delivery systems for treatment of such chronic conditions as diabetes, to interconnect a wearable or implanted glucose sensor with an insulin pump, in deep brain or cortical stimulators to address conditions such as Parkinson’s, in retinal implants to give vision to the blind, or in sensors to aid in sport training.

Similarly, IEEE 802.15.6-2012 could find unprecedented uses for personal entertainment and gaming, including body-centric solutions for future wearable computers. “The existence of a body area network standard provides a myriad of opportunities to create a wide variety of new products and capabilities aimed at enhancing people’s comfort and well being in ways we can only begin to imagine,” continued Astrin.


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