The wearable technology revolution presents many technical challenges - such as connectivity

Researchers propose body WiFi for the wearable technology age

A completely new wireless standard might be needed to provide connectivity in the age of wearables, replacing the WiFi with Body Fi, a researcher has suggested.

In an article on the Generator Research website, editor Andrew Sheehy describes how the current wireless standards fall short of what’s needed to provide smooth connectivity for the increasing number of wearable devices and proposed a way to tackle the problem.

Instead of connecting each of these devices separately to a wireless network, he proposed to connect them to a single controlling device that could act as an interface for the rest of the body network.

Due to the minute dimensions of some of the foreseen wearable devices, such as ear buds or capsules that are swallowed for measuring parameters inside the body, the network would have to use a short-range wireless networking standard that wouldn’t require bulky transmitters.

Similar to today’s smart glasses and smart watches, the whole body network would be connected to the user’s smartphone, acting as the controlling device. “The controller would start out as a smartphone,” Sheehy said. “But in the future, as more of the I/O functions that are part of today's smartphones are distributed to other wearable devices, then the smartphone's role becomes less an I/O and display device and more a simple controller which the wearer has to carry with them at all times, like a wallet or purse.”

Due to the small size of the wearable devices, he proposes that body WiFi (or Wi-Bo) should operate on frequencies above the usual spectrum used by cellular networks, between 10 and 20GHz. These high frequencies would be used to connect all the wearables to the controller which would subsequently connect the whole network to a Wi-Fi system in the office or home environment.

“It is likely that a number of entrepreneurs are pitching this very idea to tech VCs right now or if not then they soon will be,” Sheehy said. “It seems clear that any start-up which was successful in developing a technological approach that could be used to effect 'wireless networking for wearable devices' would be interesting to Google, Apple, Microsoft or Samsung, plus others.”



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