Making the ‘human-body Internet’ more effective

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TOKYO
Wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth have made remote connectivity easier, and as electronics become smaller and faster, the adoption of “wearables” has increased. From smart watches to implantables, these devices interact with the human body in ways that are very different from those of a computer. However, they both use the same protocols to transfer information, making them vulnerable to the same security risks. What if we could use the human body itself to transfer and collect information? This area of research is known as human body communication (HBC). Now, scientists from Japan report HBC characteristics specific to impedance and electrodes, which according them have the potential to improve the design and working of devices based on HBC. First, let’s understand exactly how HBC works and why it represents a more secure network. HBC is safer because it uses a lower-frequency signal that is sharply attenuated depending on the distance. The closed nature of the transmission results in lower interference and higher reliability, and, therefore, more secure connections. Having the device interact directly with the body also means that it has reliable biomedical applications. HBC technologies use electrodes instead of antennas to couple signals to the human body. This can be used to conduct an electric field from a transmitter to a receiver, and thus to communicate data. HBC receivers work very similarly to radio frequency receivers; however, it’s much more difficult to determine their input impedance. This is important because this allows scientists to maximize the received signal power. — VoM

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