Eryk Dutkiewicz, Professor of Wireless Communications at the Macquarie University, will be General Chair at BodyNets 2015, the Tenth EAI International Conference on Body Area Networks taking place on September 28-30 in Sydney, Australia. As a key-participant in the conference and an expert in ICT, Prof. Dutkiewicz gives us an overview of the hottest topics in the wireless sensor science.
What kind of improvements in users’ everyday routines can we expect from the binomial ICT-human body?
Monitoring applications in the sports, general health and medical areas are expected to contribute to great improvements in users’ everyday routines. Advances in accurate monitoring sensors for a wide range of body signals and advances in data analytics of these signals will enable users to modify their daily routines to improve their wellbeing and their health conditions. Emerging examples in the sports and general health areas include monitoring how much exercise one performs everyday and how many calories one burns. Future applications may include recommendations for daily exercises and types of food that one should consume based on some specific health-related targets. Medical applications can be of particular benefit to chronically ill or the elderly. Specific diseases, such as diabetes, can be targeted with monitoring applications involving both on-body and in-body implant devices.
What support could such an event as BodyNets bring to the research sphere?
BodyNets provides a networking forum for information-sharing for academic and industry researchers, industry and policy makers to learn about the latest developments in body monitoring and sensing technologies, wireless communications and data analysis methods and systems, including showcasing the latest ideas and prototypes. It enables discussions between researchers for closer research collaboration and between researchers and industry for potential technology transfers to industry. It also enables policy-makers to learn about new technologies that will become available in the new future so that that they may convey their possibilities to the public and governments and realize their implications on any changes that may be needed to the existing regulations and legislations
How would you describe the cooperation between academia and industry in the field of Wireless Communications applied to healthcare?
Technologies for body sensing and monitoring applications are emerging and are a great opportunity for commercial exploitation. However, they are often very specific depending on the application considered. Sports and general health-related solutions are the easiest to commercialize since they require little regulation. On the other hand, specific medical applications, such as those requiring implant devices, are highly regulated and require a lot of effort to reach the commercialization stage. Both types of applications need wireless communications technologies to convey the monitoring data to where the data analysis can take place. This could be done either at the handheld device or at a remote cloud server. For medical applications the challenge is to connect the multi-disciplinary areas of engineering and medicine with a highly regulated industry that currently produces niche products in house targeting a relatively small and well-defined market. Examples of such products are pacemakers and cochlear devices. As the range of devices increases, cooperation between academia and industry is also expected to increase. The cooperation between academia and industry to provide appropriate wireless communications is usually conducted through joint R&D activities leading to submissions of solution proposals to corresponding standards organizations such as the IEEE or 3GPP. Such cooperation is at an early stage at the moment and events such as Bodynets are intended to encourage and deepen it.
Could you give us an overview of the current top topics in the wireless sensor science, and explain what makes them so primary?
The main topics of studies in wireless sensors and communications technologies covers the scope of applications, reliability, energy consumption, communications methods, data analysis and security and privacy. Specific topics, which will be represented at BodyNets 2015 in Sydney this year, include: Wearable Computing, Embedded Devices and Medical Applications, Cloud-assisted Body Area Networks, Ultra-Wideband for Body Area Networking, Body Area NanoNETworks, Sensors and Algorithms for Human Motion Analysis and Classification, Human Body Communications, Ambient Intelligence and Privacy, Security and Trust in Body Area Networks. These are very significant topics to enable future emergence of these technologies in the market. Devices that are small, unobtrusive, accurate, secure, user friendly and perhaps even embedded in fashion accessories are needed for on body applications to encourage their adoption. Low energy consumption is needed for these devices and it is even more important for medical implant devices where battery recharging or replacement may not be feasible. Entire system solutions including data analysis are also needed to make these devices useful. Very large amounts of data are expected to be generated from body devices leading to the need for accurate and fast data analysis and detection of signatures of abnormal conditions leading to possible predictions of onsets of future diseases and to better disease diagnosis.