Advantages and Disadvantages of Body Area Network

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Advantages And Disadvantages Of Body Area Network

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Body Area Network (BAN), also known as Wireless Body Area Network (WBAN) or Personal Area Network (PAN), is relatively new technology and it is described as a very short-distance (up to 10 m only) network. BAN consists of: miniature wireless biosensors which can be conveniently implanted inside or placed outside of a person’s body, or can be carried by individuals in different positions, in pockets, in hand or in bag (Basu-Roy & Das 2015; Cowley, 2012; Fong et al. , 2011), and Central Control Unit (CCU), where all data from sensor nodes is transmitted to, and remote hospital stations for health care monitoring purpose (Arefin, Ali, & Hague, 2017).

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Advantages of BAN use are the following:

  • Devices used in BAN technology are miniaturized and can be placed anywhere on the body or can be easily implanted.
  • These biosensors provide high mobility for monitored patients.
  • These devices are characterized by low-power use.
  • BAN allows for convenient monitoring of different body signs and warns a patient if any concerning signs are detected.
  • BAN also allows for conveniently logging daily activities (Fong et al. , 2011).

Disadvantages of BAN use are the following:

  • There is a concern with security and privacy of patient monitored data since no data protection mechanism is available.
  • There is a lack of standards for BAN implementation.
  • These devices are characterized by low data throughput.
  • These devices are prone to interference. If many patients in a hospital are being monitored at a same time, and are in close proximity of each other, and it can be challenging to determine which BAN is associated with which patient’s data.
  • There is a lack of standards that govern the development of BAN biosensors.
  • There is a lack of guidelines on power source requirements and communication protocols which would particularize how data should be transmitted.
  • There is an issue with determining procedure and frequency for sensor calibration. In order to obtain accurate data, sensor has to be calibrated properly.
  • There is a lack of integration for sensors (Fong et al. , 2011).

BAN technology can be very advantageous in health monitoring of individuals who suffer from various lung conditions, diabetes, heart problems, and can be used to monitor heart rate, ECG, blood pressure, blood sugar level, blood oxygen levels, etc. At my work, a lot of patients with Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF) use BAN sensors to measure arterial oxygen saturation, minute ventilation, and respiratory rate. Also, some of our diabetic patients have biosensors implanted within their body, so when sugar-level is high, a sensor triggers insulin pump and insulin is automatically administered (Basu-Roy & Das 2015).

Wireless technologies that are the most frequently used in WBAN include: Bluetooth, Wireless USB (WUSB), and ZigBee (Cowley, 2012).

  • Bluetooth (IEEE 802. 15. 1) is the most significant PAN standard. It uses frequency hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) transmission which helps prevent electromagnetic interference (EMI) from other devices. It is a short-range standard, it uses low power, and provides high security levels. When in close proximity, bluetooth devices communicate with each other automatically. Batteries last only a few hours (Arefin et al. , 2017; Cowley, 2012).
  • Wireless USB (WUSB) is based on ultra-wideband (UWB). It is characterized by low-power consumption, good resistance to interference from other devices, great security, and short data range (Cowley, 2012).
  • ZigBee (IEEE 802. 15. 4) is used in wireless control and sensing networks, and it uses direct sequence spread spectrum (DSSS) transmission which help in resisting EMI from other devices. It is characterized by low data-rate, limited range, low-power consumption, and long-lasting batteries (Cowley, 2012).

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