Wireless Communication Technologies for Wearable Systems

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Abstract

Wireless communication technologies and wearable health-monitoring systems are inexorably linked, as wireless capabilities allow devices worn by ambulatory patients to share data (and often power) in real time with other wireless nodes. Such systems incur little-to-no cost in terms of patient/device interaction and are a dramatic improvement over traditional store-and-forward wearable monitoring devices, such as Holter monitors. In addition, the ad hoc networking functionality supported by emerging plug-and-play wireless standards points to the inevitable reality of patient environments that host pervasive networks of wireless health care devices whose primary role is to increase their quality of life. Clearly, the realization of these wireless tools does not come without cost. Wires that may have once provided high data throughput and access to power, data storage, and processing resources are no longer available. The engineering challenge is therefore to incorporate adequate power, data storage, and processing capabilities on the wireless devices to balance the throughput and operational lifetime needs of the monitoring application. Concurrently, one must consider security issues associated with broadcasting previously local information.