LONDON – A European consortium lead by CSEM (Neuchatel, Switzerland) has launched the WiserBAN project, with the objective of developing ultra-miniature RF microsystems for wireless Body Area Networks (BAN). The work is aimed primarily at wearable and implanted devices for health-care, biomedical, wellness and lifestyle applications.
The project includes 12 other partner organizations including hearing aid company Siemens Audiologische Technik GmbH and Debiotech SA of Switzerland. It is looking to develop the following wearable & implantable use cases for a wireless BAN: hearing instruments, cardiac implants, insulin pumps and cochlear implants.
It is set to run for 36 months from Sept. 1, 2010, with a budget of 9.58 million euro (about $13.5 million) of which the European Union is set to provide 6.9 million euro (about $9.8 million).
WiserBAN is expected to push wireless beyond state of the art by delivering an ultra-tiny and ultra low-energy radio that will enable WBAN capability and novel product perspectives for wearable and implanted devices for use in lifestyle and bio-medical applications.
The research is focused on the design and manufacture of an ultra low-power MEMS-based radio SoC, RF and low-frequency MEMS and miniature components, miniature reconfigurable antennas, miniaturized and cost-effective system-in-package, sensor signal processing and flexible communication protocols.
The ultimate result is expected to be a highly integrated radio-plus-antenna-plus-data processing microsystem.
With all the furor around RF energy absorption associated with mobile phones, there will be much resistance to this technology; and the ironic thing is its primary application is Health care. And the design goals that the solution be 50X smaller than WPAN solutions like Bluetooth, and 20-50X lower in power consumption compared to Bluetooth-LE/Zigbee, makes it a challenging proposal right out of the gate.
Currently wireless design is done in separate silos i.e. Antennas, RF, Baseband, Software and Control processing, Power Management due to the individual specializations required, and the separate components that implement these functions. But what WiserBAN will require is a breaking down of the silos, and unified system level design in nanotechnology right from the start. Also to meet low power-out requirements, might require ultrawideband type transmission techniques which require very low transmission power, and where the signal has to be demodulated out of the noise.
A standardized ultra low power wireless transceiver is very much in need for body area networks. Bluetooth LE & Zigbee consume too much power to be considered for sensor networks,and continuous health monitoring solutions. Hope the WiserBAN team can achieve the ultra low enegy target.
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