WBAN system seeks to revolutionise healthcare technology
HYDERABAD: Our everyday lives depend on the use of technological gadgets, a student of Mehran University of Engineering and Technology seeks to use the technology to benefit people’s health.
Dr Atiya Baqai has endeavoured to allow people to make use of the wireless body area network (WBAN) by overcoming the problems associated with it.
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What is WBAN?
WBAN is a special purpose sensor network designed to be used for remote monitoring a patient’s vital signs, such as blood pressure, respiratory rate, temperature, pulse and electrocardiogram (ECG). While helping the doctors ensure regular monitoring for disease prevention and early risk reduction, WBAN also contributes to reducing the cost of healthcare.
The technology, successor to the wired body area networks which are commonly used by health practitioners, has been around for some years. But the creators have mostly developed it in the radio and microwave spectrum using Bluetooth, ultra wide band, ZigBee and other similar bands, which are considered harmful for human tissues. They can also expose a patient’s private data to hackers through electromagnetic interference or radio-frequency interference.
However, Baqai overcame these problems by using infrared (IR) as the medium. “This [IR] is naturally compatible with human body, as all living creatures radiate infrared,” she told The Express Tribune.
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“Furthermore, this technology is inherently secure, free of electromagnetic interference, power efficient and more importantly operates in free spectrum which makes it very cost-effective.”
How does it function?
The device consists of sensors, micro controllers and IR transceivers. The sensors are attached on the body’s surface over the areas whose reading has to be taken. The data is then transmitted via IR to a mobile application, which through GPRS or Wifi internet transfers it to the healthcare provider in real time.
“It’s user-friendly and can easily be operated by a layman with the help of a smart mobile application,” Baqai pointed out.
The MUET provided funding of around Rs200,000 for Baqai’s research. But, the device will be priced at around Rs30,000 when it is introduced in the market. The researcher is also trying to patent her invention. “I will also give it some name after two months,” she added.
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“She successfully explored the potential of optical wireless communication for WBAN against other types of wireless communication,” said MUET electronic engineering department dean and Baqai’s supervisor Dr Bhawani Shankar Chowdhry. “This is a big development in the existing technology.”
Baqai receieved her post-doctorate degree during MUET’s 18th annual convocation on Wednesday. Her thesis was evaluated by foreign experts from Southampton University UK, KAIAM Corporation.
Livingston, West Lothian United Kingdom and national experts from Hitech University Taxila and Karachi Institute of Power Engineering. The research was completed in a period of three years.