Researchers are exploring an idea of using a human body in sending data between devices. This new method is called “magnetic field human body communication” utilizes the body as a vehicle to deliver magnetic energy between wearable electronic gadgets.
The ubiquitous presence of Bluetooth technology has brought many changes to our lives. It has given many personal wearable devices based on wireless technology such as fitness trackers, smart watches, audio headsets, earphones and many more. But the researchers at the University of California, San Diego in the US are exploring the possibility of developing a prototype by using the human body itself to help send data between devices. This new method is called “magnetic field human body communication”. The technique utilizes the body as a vehicle to deliver magnetic energy between wearable electronic gadgets. But it requires a wearable device to be circular in nature so that the system can function and propagate magnetic fields through the body. This system works well for the things like fitness bands, smart watches, headbands or belts.
When it comes to power consumption, Bluetooth devices aren’t very power efficient when we wear them. Also, as these wearable Bluetooth gadgets are small and light, they have very small batteries in the first place. Hence, when these Bluetooth devices worn on the body transmit data via radio signals, the data transmissions suffers ‘path loss’ due to obstructions in the way of electromagnetic waves. However, when we send data via magnetic fields directly through our bodies, the path loss can be cut down by a huge amount. The researchers have confirmed that magnetic field human body communication is more than 10 million times lower than that of Bluetooth radios.
Patrick Mercier, lead author of the study, in a statement. “This technique will allow us to build much lower power wearable devices and this technique, to our knowledge, achieves the lowest path losses out of any wireless human body communication system that’s been demonstrated so far.”
The researchers have confirmed that there is no need to worry about the sending of magnetic energy through your body. They assured that the ultra-low-power communication systems in wearable devices would transmit signals of much less power than things like MRI scanners and wireless implant devices. These magnetic fields can pass freely and without harming the biological tissue. This technique also has an advantage of its security. Magnetic field human body communication averts any kind of digital eavesdropping as the signals are largely confined to the body. According to the researchers, the information is neither radiated off the body nor can it be transmitted from one person to another.
This technique has a limitation in sending data from wearable devices to remote gadgets (such as audio speakers or a computer), for personalized applications. But many consider this limitation as a positive outcome. “Increased privacy is desirable when you’re using your wearable devices to transmit information about your health,” said Jiwoong Park, first author of the study.