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For future wearables, the network could be you

Stephen Lawson | Sept. 3, 2015
Researchers have built a network that uses magnetic fields for devices to communicate through the body.

The team built a prototype network and installed it on the body of Jiwoong Park, a Ph.D student in Mercier's lab, as a proof of concept. It used coils of insulated copper wire wrapped around each of his arms. The coils sent magnetic signals from one arm to another using his body as a guide. 

There's no serious danger to the wearer's health because the magnetic fields are so weak, the researchers said. They're far weaker than those used by a device like an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine or even the effect of the Earth's magnetic field on the body, Mercier said. 

Though some signals may radiate out from the wearer's body, they dissipate quickly so there's not much chance of interception from nearby, Mercier said. Still, any medical data that sensors sent over the network would have to be encrypted, he added. Signals would probably flow into the body of someone that the wearer touched, but the researchers haven't tested that yet. 

 

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