MedGizmo - MedGizmo: Wearables - Communications & Security Overview
15.05.2016, 12:06   MedGizmo

MedGizmo: Wearables - Communications & Security Overview

A lot has been said about proliferation of wearables, and their applications in Healthcare. Every month, market data is being published that predicts exponential growth of users and devices themselves. However, there is one aspect – which is extremely crucial – wearables generate a huge amount of data, which is being transmitted and managed. HOW is it done? What are the major problems? In our post we will provide certain reference information on these issues – for those interested, both professionals and consumers. Two big areas are under considerations: improvement of existing and developing new ways of transmission; and security/safety of all data. We are not claiming to analyze information – just present a very brief summary and relevant links – so this can be used by those concerned. We will mostly discuss communications, for security issues – we are providing links to recent newswire articles.

This NATURE paper: What could derail the wearables revolution? in detail discusses the question and provides a graph, a part of which we represent here:

Read the full paper HERE

This is how Professor Robert W. Heath Jr. from University of Texas at Austin illustrates what networks exist with wearabletech:

Image source: ©Wearable networks: A new frontier for device-to-device communication

An excellent overview is presented by Howard Harte, Director of Engineering at Cyanogen Inc. Wireless Communication for Wearable Devices who notes:
Several technologies are being used today in wearables, with Bluetooth being the most prevalent.
  • Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE):  Low power, low data rate, <100 meter range.
  • Wireless LAN (WiFi): Medium power, high data rate, 100 meter range.
  • Near Field Communications (NFC): Low power, low data rate, short range (20 cm.)
  • Mobile network (GSM)
  • GPS for positioning.
A composition of Samsung smart watch is presented:

As well as detailed analysis of each technology. Download the full report HERE

A group of Engineers from Cypress Semiconductor describe in their paper The role of Bluetooth Low Energy in wearable IoT designs
explain why the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) specification is emerging as the best wireless protocol for use in wearable Internet of Things devices.
They provide a diagram that explains the data flow and discuss the problems in detail.

Read the full paper HERE

A team led by Professor Patrick Mercier of the university's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering has discovered a clever way to use the body itself as the medium for data transmission.
Future wearables use your body to communicate

Magnetic fields provide a new way to communicate wirelessly
A new technique could pave the way for ultra low power and high-security wireless communication systems

"San Diego, Calif., August 31, 2015 -- Electrical engineers at the University of California, San Diego demonstrated a new wireless communication technique that works by sending magnetic signals through the human body. The new technology could offer a lower power and more secure way to communicate information between wearable electronic devices, providing an improved alternative to existing wireless communication systems, researchers said. They presented their findings Aug. 26 at the 37th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society in Milan, Italy.
The new study presents a solution to some of the main barriers of other wireless communication systems: in order to reduce power consumption when transmitting and receiving information, wireless systems need to send signals that can easily travel from one side of the human body to another. Bluetooth technology uses electromagnetic radiation to transmit data, however these radio signals do not easily pass through the human body and therefore require a power boost to help overcome this signal obstruction, or “path loss.”
  • this technique does not pose any serious health risks
  • it could offer more security than Bluetooth networks
Researchers noted that a limitation of this technique is that magnetic fields require circular geometries in order to propagate through the human body. Devices like smart watches, headbands and belts will all work well using magnetic field human body communication, but not a small patch that is stuck on the chest and used to measure heart rate, for example. As long as the wearable application can wrap around a part of the body, it should work just fine with this technique, researchers explained.

The full report can be accessed at this link: Magnetic human body communication

eTextiles-based body-area network (BAN) system is described and discussed in the paper: A Supply-Rail-Coupled eTextiles Transceiver for Body-Area Networks. Patrick P. Mercier, Student Member, IEEE, and Anantha P. Chandrakasan, Fellow, IEEE. BAN must be designed to be
  • robust to eavesdroppers (privacy),
  • malicious attackers (security), and
  • interference from other users (reliability).

Professor Robert W. Heath Jr. from University of Texas at Austin, reports the results of his research: MmWave for wearable electronics network

"Wearable communication networks connect different devices in and around the human body including low-rate devices like pedometers and high-rate devices like augmented-reality glasses. The potential of millimeter wave (mmWave) frequencies for device-to-device communication among wearable electronics is enormous for applications requiring Gbps throughput. MmWave can provide Gbps data rates to wearables"
Read the full report HERE

An excellent presentation by Professor Robert W. Heath Jr.can be downloaded: Wearable networks: A new frontier for device-to-device communication

The latest developments in smart textiles and smart fabrics are discussed in this recent post by New Electronics:
While smart textiles for wearables remains in its infancy, its potential is huge

Computers in Your Clothes? A Milestone for Wearable Electronics have this:

"Researchers who are working to develop wearable electronics have reached a milestone: They are able to embroider circuits into fabric with 0.1 mm precision—the perfect size to integrate electronic components such as sensors and computer memory devices into clothing.
With this advance, the Ohio State University researchers have taken the next step toward the design of functional textiles—clothes that gather, store, or transmit digital information. With further development, the technology could lead to shirts that act as antennas for your smart phone or tablet, workout clothes that monitor your fitness level, sports equipment that monitors athletes’ performance, a bandage that tells your doctor how well the tissue beneath it is healing—or even a flexible fabric cap that senses activity in the brain."

Read the full story HERE

I would highly recommend to download and read this paper by

Next Generation Wearable Devices: Smart Health Monitoring Device and Smart Sousveillance Hat using Device to Device (D2D) Communications in LTE Assisted Networks   by Niraj Shakhakarmi.

Besides discussing communications issues, it has a detailed discussion of Wearable health monitoring device principles with graphics and illustrations. It also provides information on sensors used for health monitoring:

“… the body temperature is determined using contact sensor device like thermistor or the non contact sensor device like infrared emission thermometer from the various body parts including mouth, ear,  armpit, rectum, forehead, bladder, skin, and throat. The blood oxygenation is determined using  reflectance pulse oximetry on the feet, forehead, and chest which determines the saturation of oxygen in the blood measuring both oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin at the peripherals. The blood glucose level is determined digitally by using the glucosensitive meter which can measure the amount of glucose from strips with blood sample. In addition, the entire body’s ultrasonic scanning is conducted by using the wearable ultrasonic sensor networks which basically generate the high frequency sound waves and receive their echoes from the fluid and soft tissue, soft tissue and bone creating the 3D and 2D. This can be used to detect the any internal physical problem in tissue, bone, cells and organs as well as, to care child and baby during the pregnancy period. The different phases of pregnancy can be tested by binding the Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) hormone in urine to a monoclonal antibody and an indicator or pigment molecule.”

Read the full paper HERE

Georgetown Law Journal presents Matthew R. Langley, from Law from Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, Note, that is addressing  the problem of consumer wearables with regard to protecting the privacy of health information collected from such devices and later sold to third parties:
Hide Your Health: Addressing the New Privacy Problem of Consumer Wearables

“ No federal statute currently addresses the privacy concerns inherent in consumer wearables. When these devices were used for health care or medical purposes, the U.S. Department of Health and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) were able to set privacy standards. Now that wearables are no longer used strictly for medical purposes, the FDA is restricted and privacy standards for consumer wearables must come from someplace else.”

The Note analyzes the concept of consumer wearables and privacy concerns such devices create; explain why the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and the FDA lack jurisdiction over such devices; and certain other associated issues.

Read the full text HERE

Recommended latest newswire wearables security readings:
15.05.2016, 12:06   MedGizmo
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