(Ne)tworking (W)ireless (S)ensors Lab

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Research Challenges in Wireless Networks of Biomedical Sensors

Implanted biomedical devices have the potential to revolutionize medicine. Smart sensors, which are obtained by combining sensing materials with integrated circuitry, are being considered for several biomedical applications such as a retina prosthesis. These devices require the capability to communicate with an external diagnostic computer system via a wireless interface. The limited power and computational capabilities of smart sensor based biological implants present research challenges in several aspects of wireless networking due to the need for having a bio-compatible, fault-tolerant, energy-efficient, and scalable design. Further, embedding these sensors in humans add additional requirements. For example, the wireless networking solutions should be ultra-safe and reliable, work trouble-free in different geographical locations (although implants are not expected to move; they shouldn't restrict movements of their human host), and require minimal maintenance. This necessitates application-specific solutions which are vastly different from traditional solutions. In this paper, we describe the challenges for wireless networking of human-embedded smart sensor arrays and our preliminary approach for wireless networking of a retina prosthesis. Our aim is to motivate vigorous research in this area by illustrating the need for more application-specific and novel approaches toward developing wireless networking solutions for human-embeddable smart sensors.

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Last modified: February 10, 2002