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Humans could form wireless networks

No group hug required
Mon Nov 01 2010, 15:27
Dr Simon Cotton

BOFFINS at Queens University reckon that humans could form body-to-body wireless networks.

The researchers claim humans can be turned into roaming mobile networks by strapping us up with wearable sensors. Now, we're all for cool body tech gizmo enhancements like invisible jackets and robo-exoskeleton suits. But turning us in to a mobile hotspot so Vodaphone can deliver phone calls and data streams through our bodies doesn't exactly fill us with happy thoughts.

That isn't putting Queen's Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) off the idea. Its scientists are working on a project that uses bodies as communications hubs by giving members of the public small sensors. The sensors aren't embedded under the skin but are carried around in smart phones and the team hopes to use those to create body-to-body networks (BBNs).

Dr Simon Cotton of ECIT's wireless communications research group said the technology could improve mobile gaming, remote healthcare and athletics training. It could also help reduce the number of mobile base stations, giving the project a tick in the environmentally friendly box.

"Success in this field will not only bring major social benefits it could also bring significant commercial rewards for those involved," said Dr Cotton.

"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," he added.

Maybe body-to-body networks could also be used to bump up rural network coverage and speeds. Perhaps Dr Cotton should hook up the farmers and livestock to such networks and see if it will be able to beat pigeons in a race. µ

 

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