The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project is to enable low energy, low power, physically secure Body Area Network (BAN) opening applications and use cases. BANs are wireless networks of wearable computing devices. Typical BAN devices are embedded inside the body as implants, surface-mounted on the body in a fixed position, or incorporated into accompanying devices which humans carry. Today's standard BAN technologies rely on electromagnetic waves for BAN communication, which is not physically secure and consume orders of magnitude more power compared to sensing and computation in a BAN node, making the communication link the energy bottleneck for ultra-low-power BAN devices. This project will lead to a fundamentally new class of devices that use the human body as a "wire" to achieve orders of magnitude lower power than today’s communication around the human body while simultaneously being physically secure using Electro Quasi-Static Human Body Communication technology. This technology will make battery-less BAN operation possible and enable applications like remote physiological health monitoring, athlete performance monitoring, secure access control, neural monitoring, and possibly brain-machine interfaces in the future.

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project seeks to design a demo wearable band by utilizing the human body as a secure communication medium. The band utilizes Electro-Quasi-Static-Human Body Communication (EQS-HBC) to demonstrate seamless communication between devices around the body with signal leakage primarily contained within the body. The body-wire prototype is expected to solve the problem of increased battery life by achieving a >100x reduction in energy, allowing longer-lasting, smarter, smaller (new form-factors) devices. The energy reduction and improved physical security (in addition to encryption) may open possibilities for many new sensor nodes with new form factors (e.g., connected patch). The studies about the effect of human body postures, surrounding environment, inter-human variation on the overall characteristics, and security of the human body as a communication channel will provide an understanding of the necessary design specifications from a circuit design perspective and make applications like battery-less, physiological sensor nodes practical.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP)
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Muralidharan Nair
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Bdywr, LLC
West Lafayette
United States
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