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Wireless Body Area Network for Hip Rehabilitation System - Ubiquitous Computing and Communication Journal

Wireless Body Area Network for Hip Rehabilitation System - Ubiquitous Computing and Communication Journal

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UBICC, the Ubiquitous Computing and Communication Journal [ISSN 1992-8424], is an international scientific and educational organization dedicated to advancing the arts, sciences, and applications of information technology. With a world-wide membership, UBICC is a leading resource for computing professionals and students working in the various fields of Information Technology, and for interpreting the impact of information technology on society.
www.ubicc.org
UBICC, the Ubiquitous Computing and Communication Journal [ISSN 1992-8424], is an international scientific and educational organization dedicated to advancing the arts, sciences, and applications of information technology. With a world-wide membership, UBICC is a leading resource for computing professionals and students working in the various fields of Information Technology, and for interpreting the impact of information technology on society.
www.ubicc.org

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01/03/2011

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Ubiquitous Computing and Communication Journal
1 
WIRELESS BODY AREA NETWORK FOR HIPREHABILITATION SYSTEM
 
  
Mikael Soini, Jussi Nummela, Petri Oksa, Leena Ukkonen and Lauri Sydänheimo
Tampere University of Technology, Department of Electronics, Rauma Research Unitmikael.soini@tut.fi 
 ABSTRACT
In Wearable Well-Being project PUHVI, HipGuard system for patients recoveringfrom hip surgery was developed. Novel wireless sensors having 3-axis accelerationand 3-axis magnetic sensors are used to measure patient’s hip and leg position androtation. Furthermore, capacitive insole sensors are used to measure the forcebetween foot and a shoe. This paper concentrates on how these sensors can beinterconnected to a central unit that collects and analyzes the measured information.Body Area Network (BAN) utilized in wearable healtcare application have severalapplication-specific challenges such as low-power operation, low latency datatransfer, high system reliability and autonomous network operation. This paperthoroughly analyzes how ANT wireless sensor networking technology operates asBAN – the focus is mainly on energy efficiency, communication latency, network size and reliability issues. Because the main focus of this paper is particularly inthe operability of ANT networking, these results can be directly utilized in manyother wireless sensor networking applications. 
Keywords:
body area networks, healthcare applications, wireless sensor networks.  
1
 
INTRODUCTION
 Wireless sensor networks and sensors haveseveral application areas such as forest fire detection,health monitoring, industrial sensing, and homecontrol. Sensor networks are based on physicallysmall sensors exchanging mainly measuredinformation. Sensors usually have very limitedpower, processing, and memory resources and sointeractions between nodes are limited to shortdistances and low data rates. Advances in electronicshave made these wireless sensor networks viable.For example, sensors have become smaller and moreprecise, and energy efficiency of radio circuits andmicrocontrollers has been improved considerably.Sensor networks that are composed of wearableor implanted sensors are also known as Body AreaNetworks (BAN) or Wireless Body Area Networks(WBAN) depending on how sensors are connectedwith each other. Some BAN application scenarios,related to medical healthcare, personal fitnessmonitoring and personal audio systems, arepresented in [1].This study is part of the Wearable Well-Beingproject where HipGuard system was developed forpatients who are recovering from hip surgery. Theidea behind the system is that on the one hand it isvital to keep hip and leg movements on certain range.On the other hand, it is utmost important tostrengthen the muscles sufficiently to enhancerehabilitation. HipGuard system is depicted in Fig. 1.    
Figure 1:
HipGuard pants for hip patientrehabilitation [3].This system monitors patient’s leg and hipposition and rotation with embedded wireless sensorshaving 3-axis accelerometers and 3-axis magneticsensors. The system also measures the force betweenfoot and a shoe with a capacitive insole sensor [2].The Central Unit attached to waist collects measuredinformation from sensors and calculates leg and hip
 
Ubiquitous Computing and Communication Journal
2position and rotation, and the force directed on foot.Alarm signals can be sent to patient’s Wrist Unit if hip or leg positions or rotations are false. The CentralUnit can be attached wirelessly to a mobile phonewith Bluetooth. Furthermore, the mobile phone canbe used to transfer log, alarm and history informationover Internet to enable remote patient monitoring anddiagnostic services. Therefore, HipGuard system canprovide useful real-time information for patientrehabilitation process. The system architecture andoperation is presented thoroughly in [3]. This paperespecially concentrates on WBAN issues.There have been several studies that haveconcentrated on WBANs. MobiHealth [4]implemented a Bluetooth based sensor network forhealth monitoring and [5, 6] have used UWB (Ultra-Wideband) to build ultra-low-power and lowcomplexity sensors. Lately, IEEE 802.15.4 basedapproaches have been the most popular research fieldin this area [7, 8, 9]. Instead of wireless approach,flexible electrically conductive fabrics could be usedto implement BAN. Reference [10] presents awearable monitoring system based on DC power linecommunication [11]. Because sensors would notrequire local batteries, the solution would belightweight and small. Furthermore, Intra BodyCommunication (IBC) system [12] could be used forsensor networking to obtain low signal attenuation inlow frequencies (<1 GHz).In this work, wireless ANT technology is used tointerconnect HipGuard system sensors. The focus isespecially on ANT’s energy efficiency, lowcommunication latency, network size and reliability.The rest of the paper is organized as follows. Section2 discusses how BAN sensors can be connected.Section 3 briefly introduces ANT wireless sensornetworking technology. Section 4 thoroughlydiscusses how ANT operates in this kind application.Finally, section 5 concludes the paper.
 2
 
INTERCONNECTING BODY AREANETWORK SENSORS
 Sensors can be interconnected to Central Uniteither with or without wires. Both of theseapproaches have their pros and cons. Regardless of chosen method, reliable and low latency data transferis needed to produce useful and accurate data for hipand leg position and rotation calculations.Wireless approach enables system transferabilityand flexibility. Sensors can be attached, for example,with straps. Sensors can also be easily replaced if needed. There are challenges related tocommunication reliability because human bodystrongly attenuate RF signal and other radio systemscan cause interference. Also, wireless sensors shouldbe very low-power and chargeable. Batteries shouldendure without a recharge at least a week.In wired systems data and power is transferredwith wires, therefore only the Central Unit needsrecharging. There are challenges related to durabilityof wires and connectors embedded to clothing undersevere stress, for example in machine wash. Wiredsystems have poor transferability. Replacement of broken sensors and wires can also be challenging.In this work, wireless approach is chosenbecause of system transferability and flexibility. Therest of the paper focuses on wireless networking. 
3
 
ANT WIRELESS SENSOR NETWORKINGTECHNOLOGY
 In this study ANT wireless sensor networkingtechnology is utilized. ANT is an ultra-low powershort range low data rate technology that uses GFSK(Gaussian Frequency Shift Keying) modulation andTDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) basedcommunication. Fixed packet sizes (overhead anddata) and predefined slots are used forcommunication reducing the amount of collisions. Atthe same time, Zigbee sensor networking technologyuses different packet sizes. ANT suits especially forrepetitive measurements where low latency isrequired. Table 1 highlights ANT features. [13] 
Table 1:
ANT technology in a nutshell. 
ANT sensor networking technology features
1
Operating frequency 2,4-2,524GHz: 125 1MHz channels
2
Communication range up to 10 meters
3
Operating principle TDMA
4
Modulation GFSK
5
True data throughput up to 20 kbps
6
Code space 16kB
7
Network topology star, tree or mesh networks
8
Network devices up to 2^32
9
Data packet size 17B (8B payload)
10
Packet types Broadcast, Burst, Acknowledged
11
Transmission power 0,01 - 1mW (-20dBm to 0dBm)
12
Receiver sensitivity -80dBm
 
 
As presented in Table 1, ANT protocol has threedifferent message types:
Acknowledged 
,
Broadcast 
and
Burst 
.
Acknowledged 
message requiresacknowledgements which are not usable in real-timecommunication where only fresh new data isessential.
Broadcast 
is the simplest ANT message (8bytes payload) which is sent on dedicated slot oneach time frame.
Burst 
is a message that consists of two or more sequential ANT messages (at least 16bytes). Fig. 2 presents ANT packet structure.   
Figure 2
: ANT packet structure. 
 
Ubiquitous Computing and Communication Journal
3ANT enables to implement various differentsensor network topologies; in this case, a simple stararchitecture is used where Central Unit operates as anetwork master. The star architecture, presented inFig. 3, is chosen because the amount of network nodes is low and low latency is needed incommunication. If needed, Central Unit can alsooperate as a bridge to external databases and users.  
Figure 3:
Network architecture for HipGuard system.A channel must be established before ANTnodes can communicate. In the establishmentprocedure, the network master (in this case CentralUnit) chooses channel parameters (network number,RF frequency and channel period) and advertisesthem by sending packets with chosen period. A slave(in this case Sensor Unit) listen channel traffic andchecks for the packets that master is sending.Connection is established after slave has beensynchronized to master data packets. Master andslave can be further paired if communicationbetween the devices is continuous.
 
 
4
 
ANT OPERABILITY
 In this section, the operability of ANT network is studied. Evaluation parameters are sensor energyconsumption, system latencies, network size andcommunication reliability. As a comparison,IEEE802.15.4 based BAN operability has beenstudied in [14] and [15] as a function of throughput,latency and network size. 
4.1
 
Energy consumption
Energy consumption is an important parameterin wireless systems and devices because decentbattery life times are needed for usability reasons.Here, Sensor Unit and Central Unit energyefficiency is evaluated. Sensor Unit is a wirelesssensor having 3-axis accelerometer and 3-axismagnetic sensors. Central Unit operates as WBANmaster collecting data from Sensor Units.In these measurements, the transmission powerwas set to maximum (1 mW) because it has nosignificant effect on sensor node total powerconsumption and it provides better reliability andless retransmission in this challenging environment.Operating voltage was set to 3 V. Fig. 4 and Fig. 5present the current consumption of a Sensor Unit andCentral Unit.
  Figure 4:
Sensor Unit current consumption withbroadcast and burst messages.   
Figure 5:
Central Unit current consumption perslave with broadcast and burst messages.
 
 Sensor measurement results are 16 bytes inlength. This consists of 10-byte accelerometer dataand 6-byte magnetic sensor data. Measurementresults can be transmitted either with one 16-byte
burst 
packet or with two 8-byte
broadcast 
packets. Inthis section
broadcast 
and
burst 
packets arecompared from energy efficiency perspective. Toachieve equal payload data rate
broadcast 
packetsmust be sent at double rate compared to
burst 
 packets; in this case, payload data rate required bythe application is 256 bytes per second that is 16messages per second × 16 bytes (
burst 
) or 32messages per second × 8 bytes (
broadcast 
).In Sensor Unit case (see Fig. 4), sending one
burst 
packet consumes 1.6 % more current comparedto two
broadcast 
packets, when data rate is 256 bytesper second. The difference is negligible.In Central Unit case (see Fig. 5), using two
broadcast 
packets increase Central Unit’s currentconsumption about 18 % compared to one
burst 
 packet, when data rate is 256 bytes per second. This

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