Human Body Communication as the ultimate short distance communication

March 12, 2009 · Filed Under Editor's Corner 

Since Guglielmo Marconi conducted a transatlantic electromagnetic wave communication experiment in 1901, wireless communications were utilized as a means of long-distance information transmission. It was at the end of the 20th century that short-distance communication technologies for mobile phones and wireless LAN came to be widely used.
Human body communication is a new form of short-distance wireless communication between devices using the human body surface as a safe and high speed network transmission path. Use of human body in this form will result in reduced leakage of information and transmission loss in comparison to wireless spatial transmission making it as a lowest power consumed form of wireless communication. Human body communication enjoys a wide range of application mainly due to loose standards which may at the same time result in reduced compatibility with different device manufacturers in this area of technology. One of the application area would be in a form of “One-to -One” services for instance elimination of human error by helping a user to avoid accidental wrong medicine ingestion by triggering an alarm when the user touches the wrong medicine bottle or alert and contact record at medical, long term care and childcare facilities or avoidance of risk at construction sites by sounding an alarm in an event a special equipment is touched and handled by anyone other than supervisor. The other interesting application in the area of one-to-one services would be in marketing application where the consumer touches an advertisement billboard or a panel would receive information matching his or her attributes. The other area of application could be in form of “Intuitive operation “such as touching a printer machine to do a print job or instant private data exchange through a handshake. Among multitude of other applications are “personalization” where for instance by touching the TV’s remote control triggers a filter or search routine according to user personal programming preferences or when the user sitting in the seat of a car the seat triggers the vehicle to load all the preset information in accordance to that user’s preference. The other interesting application would in such area as locking and unlocking doors to transmitting music and image information to someone else or group of people. In fact NTT DoCoMo ran a TV ad in spring of 2008 where a user with a mobile phone equipped with a human body communication capability in his/her pocket unlocks a door, starts the engine of a scooter, goes through an automatic ticket gate and pays of a drink at a vending machine. Currently the major attention for this type of wireless technology has been given by medical and health care sector. Although many companies have come up with various workable prototypes, the technology itself being in its infancy suffers from some difficulties such as electrode structure which corresponds to antennas in wireless communication and propagation characteristics since the propagation and impedance characteristics of electrodes changes in response to human movement creating an urgent need to work out a technology that would enable devices to properly respond to the influences of the characteristic changes. Among other challenges this new form of communication is facing are determination of the frequency that is most suitable for human body communication, it influence on human body, miniaturization, enhancement of communication speed, multi access techniques and reduction of power consumption which are typical issues that are facing other wireless communication technologies. Like other new technologies in order to insure its market establishment and success a workable standards needs to be formulated in defining conditions in interfacing this new form of communication technology with other technologies based devices as well as various other human body communication based devices that will be developed in the near future. It is called in short COMAPTIBILITY.

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