Journal of Medical Systems

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 1065–1094 | Cite as

A Comprehensive Survey of Wireless Body Area Networks

On PHY, MAC, and Network Layers Solutions
  • Sana Ullah
  • Henry Higgins
  • Bart Braem
  • Benoit Latre
  • Chris Blondia
  • Ingrid Moerman
  • Shahnaz SaleemEmail author
  • Ziaur Rahman
  • Kyung Sup Kwak
Original Paper


Recent advances in microelectronics and integrated circuits, system-on-chip design, wireless communication and intelligent low-power sensors have allowed the realization of a Wireless Body Area Network (WBAN). A WBAN is a collection of low-power, miniaturized, invasive/non-invasive lightweight wireless sensor nodes that monitor the human body functions and the surrounding environment. In addition, it supports a number of innovative and interesting applications such as ubiquitous healthcare, entertainment, interactive gaming, and military applications. In this paper, the fundamental mechanisms of WBAN including architecture and topology, wireless implant communication, low-power Medium Access Control (MAC) and routing protocols are reviewed. A comprehensive study of the proposed technologies for WBAN at Physical (PHY), MAC, and Network layers is presented and many useful solutions are discussed for each layer. Finally, numerous WBAN applications are highlighted.


Implant communication Physical WBAN MAC Networking Routing Survey 

Acronyms and abbreviations


Adaptive Least Temperature Routing


Advanced Encryption Standard


Carrier Sense Multiple Access/Collision Avoidance


Contention Access Period


Contention Free Period


Clear Channel Assessment


Control Channels


Consumer Electronics




Cipher-block Chaining


Counter with CBC


Cyclic Redundancy Check


Coefficient of Absorption and Bioeffects


Cascading Information Retrieval by Controlling Access with Distributed slot Assignment protocol


Constant Bit Rate


Reservation-based Dynamic TDMA Protocol


Effective Radiated Power




Federal Communication Commission


Finite Difference Time Domain


Gross Domestic Product


Guaranteed Time Slot


Heart-beat Driven MAC Protocol


Hydroxyl Ethyl Cellulose


Horizontal-Vertical Polarisation


Horizontal-Horizontal Polarisation


Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers


Industrial, Scientific, and Medical band


Low Power Listening


Listen Before Talking


Line Of Sight


Least Temperature Routing


Least Total Route Temperature


Medium Access Control


Medical Implant Communications Service

MAC (bold letters)

Message Authentication Code


Master Node


Monitoring Station


National Institute of Standards and Technology


Non-line Of Sight


Network Simulator 2


Physical Layer


Preamble-based TDMA Protocol


Quality of Service


Radio Frequency


a software company (


Specific Absorption Rate


Time Division Multiple Access


Time Slot Reserved for Periodic Traffic


Time Slot Reserved for Bursty Traffic


Thermal Aware Routing Algorithm


Temperature Increase Potential


Ultra-wide Band


Vertical-Vertical Polarisation


Vertical-Horizontal Polarisation


Wireless Body Area Network


Wireless Medical Telemetry Services


Wireless Autonomous Spanning Tree Protocol


Wireless Sensor Network


a 3d Electromagnetic simulation software package


Exclusive OR



The authors would like to thank Mr. Michael J. Hladik, Mr. Niamat Ullah, and Mr. Pervez Khan (Inha University) for their insightful comments on the manuscript. This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government(MEST) (No. No.2010-0018116).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sana Ullah
    • 1
  • Henry Higgins
    • 2
  • Bart Braem
    • 3
  • Benoit Latre
    • 4
  • Chris Blondia
    • 3
  • Ingrid Moerman
    • 4
  • Shahnaz Saleem
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ziaur Rahman
    • 5
  • Kyung Sup Kwak
    • 1
  1. 1.UWB-ITRC Research CenterInha UniversityNam-gu IncheonSouth Korea
  2. 2.Zarlink SemiconductorsWiltshireUK
  3. 3.Department of Mathematics and Computer ScienceUniversity of Antwerp/IBBTAntwerpBelgium
  4. 4.Department of Information TechnologyGhent University/IBBTGentBelgium
  5. 5.Department of Biological SciencesKorea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)DaejeonSouth Korea

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