Researchers at Purdue University in the USA have developed a way to use the human body as a communication medium, instead of relying on hackable wireless networks.
Shreyas Sen, an assistant professor in the Purdue School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said that secure connectivity with devices in or on the body, "and even among devices on different humans and machines," can be achieved at power levels "orders of magnitude lower than wireless," leading to longer battery life.
Because of its high water content, Sen said, the human body is a very good conductor of electricity, "So you can use the body as a wire."
Power is also saved by suppressing competing signals. Similar work in the past has been hampered, because the human body is affected by interference from competing signals like FM radio. However, the Human Body Communication system developed by the Purdue group counters these signals using an integrated dual data rate receiver technique that enables notch filtering (>20dB), enabling intra-body communication.
The group wrote, in findings published in the ACM/IEEE International Symposium on Low Power Electronics and Design, that their development was prompted by the spread of small, wearable electronics, typically connected through a ‘wireless body area network' (WBAN).
Potential applications include social networking, where a friend request could be sent through a handshake; and the medical field, such as the ability to reprogramme artificial organs without surgery. Because a person would have to be touched to affect their devices, the system would also protect against the possibility of IoT implants being hacked.
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