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The increasing use of wireless networks and the constant miniaturization of electrical devices has empowered the development of Wireless Body Area Networks (WBANs). In these networks various sensors are attached on clothing or on the body or even implanted under the skin. The wireless nature of the network and the wide variety of sensors offer numerous new, practical and innovative applications to improve health care and the Quality of Life. The sensors of a WBAN measure for example the heartbeat, the body temperature or record a prolonged electrocardiogram. Using a WBAN, the patient experiences a greater physical mobility and is no longer compelled to stay in the hospital. This paper offers a survey of the concept of Wireless Body Area Networks. First, we focus on some applications with special interest in patient monitoring. Then the communication in a WBAN and its positioning between the different technologies is discussed. An overview of the current research on the physical layer, existing MAC and network protocols is given. Further, cross layer and quality of service is discussed. As WBANs are placed on the human body and often transport private data, security is also considered. An overview of current and past projects is given. Finally, the open research issues and challenges are pointed out.

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  1. In the following, we will not make a distinction between a WSAN and a WSN although they have significant differences [43].

  2. This is also referred to as creeping waves. A creeping wave is defined as the wave that is diffracted around the shadowed surface of a smooth body such as a sphere.

  3. MAC is written in italic in order to avoid confusion with the abbreviation of Medium Access Control.


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This research is partly funded by the Fund for Scientific Research—Flanders (F.W.O.-V., Belgium) project G.0531.05.

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Latré, B., Braem, B., Moerman, I. et al. A survey on wireless body area networks. Wireless Netw 17, 1–18 (2011).

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