We all have heard of LAN/WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network), MAN (Metropolitan Area Network), and WAN (Wide Area Network). Maybe you have also heard about PAN (Personal Area Network). Today. let’s know more about BAN / WBAN – Wireless Body Area Network.
What is BAN?
This is a network of multiple interconnected devices worn or implanted in a human’s body. These devices include monitoring devices such as pacemakers or BP monitors. Such a network typically includes a smartphone which acts as a mobile hub to collect data from wearables and implants and push it to a central repository to process/ analyze further.
Now you probably can guess one of the biggest beneficiaries of BAN/WBAN – medical field! Patients can be equipped with wearable monitoring devices and a smartphone. Then the medical team can monitor the patient’s health from a single location. This technology comes handy for remote monitoring or could also be extremely useful during a medical emergency where a small group of medics needs to monitor a large number of patients.
So is this a standard terminology?
Yes, there’s an IEEE standard 802.15.6 defined for WBAN from Healthcare point of view.
It is a standard for short-range, low power, and highly reliable wireless communication in, on and around human body.
BAN network cannot just monitor the human body, but can also initiate action. e.g. Insulin can be injected automatically into a diabetic patients body if the BAN detects lower levels of insulin in the body.
In some other use cases, a sports person can create BAN to gather data about her performance and subsequently make improvements to her game.
Some concerns about BAN/WBAN
Since this is a mobile network, which moves along with the human, security of the data becomes an important consideration. WBAN also needs to ensure that the data is collected from correct human even if there are multiple humans in the vicinity.
Privacy – this could be treated as an invasion of privacy and it is utmost important to obtain consent from the human to create and use BAN around his/her body.
Data management – data collected using such close monitoring is going to be humongous and hence needs to be managed well.
Radio Frequency Identification i.e. RFID is now a widely used technique and many might have even used it. But how many of us understand the technology behind it? Let’s learn a bit more about it today.
How does RFID work?
This technology consists of two parts – a tag and a reader. An RFID Tag is a small object which could be attached to objects that need to be tracked. These tags store some information in a non-volatile memory. This information could be permanent (Read Only) or could be changed using writer devices. The second part is the reader. It is a device which reads the data stored on the tag. The reader sends some signal to the tag and in response to that signal, the tag sends back the data stored with it. This process is known as “interrogation”. The signal that reader sends is a Radio Wave having a frequency between 120kHz and 10GHz.
Typical Use Cases
Warehouse Stock Identification
Payments at the toll booths
Use of RFID tags is growing globally and new use cases or needs are getting addressed.
NFL (National Football League) is using RFID tags on various sports accessories such as football and shoulder pad to collect a lot of data about the game. The data includes parameters like speed, acceleration, deceleration, location etc. Also, this data is captured 25 times per second. This would give a lot of insights to the trainers/coaches as well as to the fans of the NFL.
This type of data collection is possibly done using RFID Tag of type Active Reader Active Tag system. In this system, the readers are set to collect data from a specific interrogation zone so that data collection is strongly controlled.
A drone has been developed by researchers which can read RFID tags in a range which is few hundred square feet, instead of usual few feet range. This could be of significance for large warehouses such as Walmart or Amazon. It could potentially save several thousand dollars and person-hours in finding missing items.
In another significant area of Healthcare, RFID tag has been developed which could read vital body parameters such as heart rate and blood pressure. One central reader can receive data from as many as 200 RFID tags. This could improve the response by the medical team during large-scale emergency situations.
RFID is here to stay and become more and more mainstream.
Near Field Communication has been around for a while now. With the strong use cases such as payments using NFC, it is getting more traction since last few years. Android and iOS, both have support for this protocol and have various use cases successfully implemented in various fields.
Is It Similar to Bluetooth?
NFC is a set of protocols for communication between two electronic devices. This communication happens when these 2 devices are close to each other (within 4 cm range). This is very similar to Bluetooth communication, but bluetooth communication can happen upto 30ft range. Apart from this, Bluetooth needs pairing of devices, whereas NFC happens instantly when the devices are close to each other. Although they are similar and NFC tends to be easier to use, bluetooth has been more popular until now.
However, as per recent reports, NFC enabled phones are getting traction. About 64% of phones those would be shipped in 2018 would have this technology included. Apart from mobiles, it is also used at other places such as smart cards.
Types of communications
Two way communication – You can use NFC to transfer data from one phone to other. This is a very common way now to setup you new android phone.
One way communication – In this case, your NFC tag carries certain data, which is written/updated by NFC powered terminals. For example, if you are carrying a smart card for your metro travel, the moment you flash it at the entrance of metro, it could deduct appropriate amount from your smart card and write new balance there.
How does mobile payment using NFC work?
Customer launches the payment application on the mobile phone
Customer taps the mobile phone on the credit card terminal.
A connection is made using NFC between the terminal and mobile phone.
Customer is prompted for second level authentication such as fingerprint scan or entering a pin.
Transaction is validated using a secure chip, which gets authorization from the bank and relay it back to the mobile app. This marks the completion of the payment.
NFC tags could be placed at various places including entrance of trade shows, which could instantly give information about various booths to the visitors. The tags could also be placed in flyers or advertisements which could give additional info to the customers by just tapping. Tags placed within retail stores in conjunction with mobile apps can provide additional personalized info to the consumers which increases the sales.