Recent developments in intelligent sensors, such as (bio) medic sensors, in combination with the steady evolution in wireless networks, in particular ad hoc networks, pave the way for a new type of networks, Body Area Networks or BAN's. A BAN is a network in which, several compact mobile devices, attached to the body, communicate using a wireless network. Interaction with the user will be possible using a central intelligent device (e.g. a PDA). We distinguish two types of devices: sensors and actuators.
Sensors will be used to measure certain parameters. Some examples of sensors are: external medical sensors (monitor the heartbeat, blood pressure, body temperature, recording a long term ECG ...), internal or implanted medical sensors (measuring of the cerebral activity for epileptic patients, measuring the glucose levels in the blood of diabetics, endoscopy where the sensor is built into a pill, retina prostheses for the visually impaired existing of a matrix of micro sensors that transform electrical signals into neurological signals and thus mimic the normal
behaviour of the retina ...), microphone, headphone, digital glasses with the functionality of a PC monitor, ...
The second category of devices is called actuators that will act in function of the measured parameters in the sensors or by interaction with the user. Some possibilities for actuators are: a device for administering the correct dose of insulin to diabetics, based on the measures glucose level, intravenous administering of medication when a higher cerebral activity is detected and thus preventing an epileptic seizure, changing the image of the digital glasses, ... Thanks to a BAN, in the future it will be possible to monitor patients continuously and to apply the necessary medication, whether it is in a hospital or at home or during transportation. Patients will no longer need to keep to their beds, but will be able to move about freely. Elderly people will be able to live in their own home longer and will not need to move to a retirement home or at least not until a later age. Training schedules of professional athletes can be monitored more closely.