‘Wireless’ humans could backbone new mobile networks


London : People could form the backbone of powerful new mobile internet networks by carrying wearable sensors.

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The sensors could create new ultra high bandwidth mobile internet infrastructures and reduce the density of mobile phone base stations.

Engineers from Queen’s Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology are working on a new project based on the rapidly developing science of body-centric communications.

Social benefits could include vast improvements in mobile gaming and remote healthcare, along with new precision monitoring of athletes and real-time tactical training in team sports, an institute release said.

The researchers are investigating how small sensors carried by members of the public, in items such as next generation smartphones, could communicate with each other to create potentially vast body-to-body networks.

The new sensors would interact to transmit data, providing ‘anytime, anywhere’ mobile network connectivity.

Simon Cotton from the institute’s wireless communications research group said: “In the past few years, a significant amount of research has been undertaken into antennae and systems designed to share information across the surface of the human body.”

“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 added.

“The availability of body-to-body networks could bring great social benefits, including significant healthcare improvements through the use of body-worn sensors for the widespread, routine monitoring and treatment of illness away from medical centres,” Cotton said.

If the idea takes off, body-to-body networks 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 added.