Researchers Develop Bluetooth Alternative That Sends Signals Through The Body

Researchers Develop Bluetooth Alternative That Sends Signals Through The Body

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have developed a new way of transferring data that uses the human body's magnetic fields to transmit data while using an extremely small amount of energy.
(Photo : UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering | Flickr)

Bluetooth is a great way to transfer files and information, however, there is always room for improvement. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have developed an alternative to Bluetooth that is both faster and more secure.

The way the system works, however, is what makes it interesting. Essentially, it sends data signals through the body's natural magnetic field instead of sending signals over the air. The development of the system could trigger a new wave of extremely low-power wearable devices.

"In the future, people are going to be wearing more electronics, such as smart watches, fitness trackers and health monitors. All of these devices will need to communicate information with each other. Currently, these devices transmit information using Bluetooth radios, which use a lot of power to communicate. We're trying to find new ways to communicate information around the human body that use much less power," said Patrick Mercier, a professor who led the research at UCSD, in a statement.

The research is set to be presented at the International Conference of the IEEE Engineering Medicine and Biology Society, which is held in Milan, Italy.

There are a number of reasons that finding a Bluetooth alternative could be important. While it does work efficiently when there aren't any obstacles between the two devices communicating, a pretty significant power boost is required to push the signal through something like the human body. With this new system, the human body itself is what transmits the data, eliminating the body as an obstacle. To use the body in data transmission, PVC-wrapped wires go around the user's limbs, which generate magnetic fields for data to be sent.

It works in a very similar way as an MRI, although it is at a far lower energy level. In fact, the researchers suggest that the path loss in using this technique is as much as 10 million times lower than Bluetooth. This should make devices last much longer on a charge and will translate into massive energy savings.

Not only is the system better when it comes to energy, but it also offers increased security over other wireless standards. With standard Bluetooth connections, a signal is projected within 30 feet of the user. Really, anyone could intercept the data within that range. With this new system, someone trying to intercept the data would need almost physical contact in order to make a connection.

Of course, this could only be used in specific scenarios, and really only when wearable devices are being used. Any other device would not be connected to the body, meaning that it would not be able to make use of the system.

Via: Engadget

Photo: UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering | Flickr