Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

An adaptive MAC protocol for real-time and reliable communications in medical cyber-physical systems

  • 496 Accesses

  • 12 Citations


With the increasing demands for high-quality health-care services, medical cyber-physical systems over wireless body sensor networks have emerged as a promising solution for vital life signals monitoring. These systems require the communication protocols to be both reliable and real-time in data transmissions. IEEE 802.15.4 can be regarded as the canonical protocols in this area owing to its low-power and low-cost features. However, it falls short of reliability and timeliness guarantees. To address this issue, we propose an adaptive MAC protocol based on IEEE 802.15.4, namely Ada-MAC. The proposed protocol combines schedule-based on time-triggered protocol and contention-based CSMA/CA mechanism. It can not only enable dynamic Guaranteed Time Slots allocation but also provide differentiated services for different nodes according to their data types. The proposed protocol is implemented on the OMNeT++ platform. Extensive simulations are conducted to evaluate the performance of Ada-MAC in comparison with the traditional IEEE 802.15.4 MAC. The results show the superiority of the proposed protocol in terms of reliability and timeliness.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12
Fig. 13
Fig. 14
Fig. 15


  1. 1.

    Ali, K.A., Sarker, J. H., & Mouftah, H. T. (2010, May). Urgency-based MAC protocol for wireless sensor body area networks. In: IEEE International Conference on Communications Workshops (ICC), May 23–27 (pp. 1–6).

  2. 2.

    Anastasia, G., Conti, M., & Di Francesco, M. (2011). A comprehensive analysis of the MAC unreliability problem in IEEE 802.15.4 wireless sensor network. In: IEEE Transactions on Industrial Informatics (pp. 52–65).

  3. 3.

    Afonso, J. A., Rocha, L. A., Silva, H. R., & Correi, J. H. (2006). MAC protocol for low-power real-time wireless sensing and actuation. In: The 13th IEEE International Conference on Electronics, Circuits and Systems (ICECS) (pp. 1248–1251).

  4. 4.

    Chen, F., Wang, N., German, R., & Dressler, F., (2009). Simulation study of IEEE 802.15.4 LR-WPAN for industrial applications. In: Wireless Communication and Mobile Computing (pp. 609–621).

  5. 5.

    Choi, W. C., & Lee, S. (2011, August). Implementation of the IEEE 802.15.4 module with CFP in NS-2. Telecommunication Systems, 52, 2347.

  6. 6.

    Ferreira, N., & Fonseca, J. A. (2007). Using time-trigger communications over IEEE 802.15.4. In: IEEE Conference on Emerging Technologies and Factory Automation (pp. 1384–1387).

  7. 7.

    Gribaudo, M., Manini, D., & Nordio, A. (2011, April). Performance analysis of IEEE 802.15.4 Beacon-enabled mode. In: IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications (pp. 1165–1175).

  8. 8.

    High Confidence Software and Systems Coordinating Group. (2009, February). High-confidence medical devices: Cyber-physical systems for 21st century healthcare. In: NCO/NITRD: A Research and Development Needs Report.

  9. 9.

    Jeon, J., Wook Lee, J., Seok Kim, H., Hyun Kwon, W. (2007). PECAP: Priority-based delay alleviation algorithm for IEEE 802.15.4 Beacon-enabled networks. In: Wireless Personal Communications (pp. 1625–1631).

  10. 10.

    Sup Kwak, K. & Ulla, S. (2010, December). A traffic-adaptive MAC protocol for WBAN. In: IEEE GLOBECOM Workshops, 6–10, Dec (pp. 1286–1289).

  11. 11.

    Kim, M., & Kang, C. (2010). Priority-based service-differentiation scheme for IEEE 802.15.4 sensor networks in nonsaturation environments. In: IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology (pp. 3524–3535).

  12. 12.

    Kim, E., Kim, M., & Choi, S. (2007). Priority-based service differentiation scheme for IEEE 802.15.4 sensor networks. In: International Journal of Electronics and Communications (pp. 69–81).

  13. 13.

    Koubaa, A., Alves, M., & Tovar, E. (2006). i-GAME: An implicit GTS allocation mechanism in IEEE 802.15.4 for time-sensitive wireless sensor networks’. In: The 18th Euromicro Conference on Real-Time Systems (pp. 169–204).

  14. 14.

    Kopetz, H., & Grunsteidl, G. (1993). TTP-A time-triggered protocol for fault-tolerant real-time systems (pp. 524–533). The Twenty-Third International Symposium on Fault-Tolerant Computing : Digest of Papers.

  15. 15.

    Koo, B., Han, K., & James J. (2011, July). (Jong Hyuk) Park, Design and implementation of a wireless sensor network architecture using smart mobile devices. In: Telecommunication Systems, 2011.

  16. 16.

    Khan, B. K., & Falah, H. (2011, August). Ali collision free mobility adaptive (CFMA) MAC for wireless sensor networks. In: Telecommunication Systems.

  17. 17.

    Lee, I., & Sokolsky, O. (2010, June). Medical cyber physical systems. In: 47th ACM/IEEE Design Automation Conference (DAC), 13–18 June (pp. 743–748).

  18. 18.

    Lee, I., Sokolsky, O., Chen, S., et al. (2012, January). Challenges and research directions in medical cyber-physical systems. In: Proceedings of the IEEE (pp. 75–90).

  19. 19.

    Li, C., Li, H., & Kohno. R. (2009, June). Performance evaluation of IEEE 802.15.4 for wireless body area network (WBAN). In: IEEE ICC Workshops (pp. 1–5).

  20. 20.

    Lauwens, B., & Scheers, B. (June 2010). Antoine Van de Capelle Performance analysis of unslotted CSMA/CA in wireless networks. Telecommunication Systems, 44(1–2), 109–123.

  21. 21.

    Moghaddam, M. H. Y., & Adjeroh, D. (2010, April). A novel congestion Control protocol for vital signs monitoring in wireless biomedical sensor networks. In: IEEE Wireless Communications and Networking Conference (WCNC), 18–21 April (pp. 1–6).

  22. 22.

    Mehta, A., Bhatti, G., Sahinoglu, Z., Viswanathan, R., & Zhang, J. (2009, December). Performance analysis of beacon-enabled IEEE 802.15.4 MAC for emergency response applications. In: Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Advanced Networks and Telecommunication Systems, New Delhi, India (pp. 151–153).

  23. 23.

    Noh, K., Lee, S., Shin, Y., et al. (2010, December). Performance evaluation of an adaptive congestion avoidance algorithm for IEEE 802.15.4’. In: IEEE 13th International Conference on Computational Science and Engineering (CSE), 11–13 December, (pp. 14–19).

  24. 24.

    Ndih, E. D. N., Khaled, N., & De Micheli, G. (2009). An analytical model for the contention access period of the slotted IEEE 802.15.4 with service differentiation. In: IEEE international Conference on Communications(ICC 2009) (pp. 1–6).

  25. 25.

    Nefzi, B., Song, Y., Koubaa, A., et al. (2006). Improving the IEEE 802.15.4 slotted CSMA/CA MAC for time-critical events in wireless sensor networks. In: The 5th International Workshop on Real-Time Networks, Dresden, Germany.

  26. 26.

    Paso, T., Makela, J., & Iinatti, J. (Oct. 2011). Enhancing the IEEE 802.15.4 MAC with dynamic GTS allocation for medical applications. In: 14th International Symposium on Wireless Personal Multimedia Communications (WPMC), 3–7 October (pp. 1–5).

  27. 27.

    Park, P., Di Marco, P., Fischione, C., & Johansson, K. H. (2009). Adaptive IEEE 802.15.4 protocol for reliable and timely communications. In: IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking.

  28. 28.

    Seo, Y., Kim, D., & Cho, J. (2010). A dynamic CFP allocation and opportunity contention based WBAN Mac protocol. IEICE Transactions on Communications, E93.B(4), 850–853.

  29. 29.

    Sokolsky, O., Lee, I., & Heimdahl, M., (2011, October). Challenges in the regulatory approval of medical cyber-physical systems. In: Proceedings of the International Conference on Embedded Software (EMSOFT), 9–14 October (pp. 227–232).

  30. 30.

    Sthapit, P., Pyun, J.-Y. (2011, August). Medium reservation based sensor MAC protocol for low latency and high energy efficiency. In: Telecommunication Systems.

  31. 31.

    Ullah, S., Higgins, H., Braem, B., Latre, B., Blondia, C., Moerman, I., Saleem, S., Rahman, Z., & Sup Kwak, K. (2010). A comprehensive survey of wireless body area networks. In: Journal of Medical Systems (pp. 1–30).

  32. 32.

    Ullah, Sana, Higgins, Henry, Shen, Bin, & Kwak, K. S. (2010). On the implant communication and MAC protocols for WBAN. International Journal of Communication Systems, 23(8), 982–999.

  33. 33.

    Xia, F., Vinel, A., Gao, R., Wang, L., & Qiu, T. (2011). Evaluating IEEE 802.15.4 for cyber-physical systems. EURASIP Journal on Wireless Communications and Networking, 2011(596397), 14.

  34. 34.

    Xia, F., Hao, R., Cao, Y., & Xue, L. (2011). ART-GTS: An adaptive and real-time GTS allocation scheme for IEEE 802.15.4. In: The 7th Asian Internet Engineering Conference (AINTEC), Bangkok, Thailand (pp. 96–103).

  35. 35.

    Xia, F., Wang, L., Zhang, D., Zhang, X., & Gao, R. (2012, May). Ada-MAC: An adaptive MAC protocol for real-time and reliable health monitoring. In: IEEE International Conference on Cyber Technology in Automation, Control and Intelligent Systems (CYBER), Bangkok, Thailand, 27–31 May.

  36. 36.

    Yan, Z., & Liu, B. (2011, July). A context aware MAC protocol for medical wireless body area network. In: The 7th International Wireless Communications and Mobile Computing Conference (IWCMC), 4–8 July (pp. 2133–2138).

Download references


This work is partially supported by Nature Science Foundation of China under Grant Nos. 60903153, 61203165, and 61103185, Liaoning Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant No. 201202032, the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (DUT12JR10, DUT1600-852021), and DUT Graduate School (JP201006).

Author information

Correspondence to Xiangjie Kong.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Xia, F., Wang, L., Zhang, D. et al. An adaptive MAC protocol for real-time and reliable communications in medical cyber-physical systems. Telecommun Syst 58, 125–138 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11235-014-9895-2

Download citation


  • IEEE 802.15.4
  • Medical cyber-physical systems
  • Real-time communications
  • Reliability
  • MAC protocol