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Okundu Omeni; Alan Chi Wai Wong; Alison J. Burdett; Christofer Toumazou 
IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems; 2008; Volume: 2(4); pp 251 - 259


This paper presents a novel energy-efficient MAC Protocol designed specifically for wireless body area sensor networks (WBASN) focused towards pervasive healthcare applications. Wireless body area networks consist of wireless sensor nodes attached to the human body to monitor vital signs such as body temperature, activity or heart-rate. The network adopts a master-slave architecture, where the body-worn slave node periodically sends sensor readings to a central master node. Unlike traditional peer-to-peer wireless sensor networks, the nodes in this biomedical WBASN are not deployed in an ad hoc fashion. Joining a network is centrally managed and all communications are single-hop. To reduce energy consumption, all the sensor nodes are in standby or sleep mode until the centrally assigned time slot. Once a node has joined a network, there is no possibility of collision within a cluster as all communication is initiated by the central node and is addressed uniquely to a slave node. To avoid collisions with nearby transmitters, a clear channel assessment algorithm based on standard listen-before-transmit (LBT) is used. To handle time slot overlaps, the novel concept of a wakeup fallback time is introduced. Using single-hop communication and centrally controlled sleep/wakeup times leads to significant energy reductions for this application compared to more flexible network MAC protocols such as 802.11 or Zigbee. As duty cycle is reduced, the overall power consumption approaches the standby power. The protocol is implemented in hardware as part of the Sensium system-on-chip WBASN ASIC, in a 0.13- mum CMOS process.


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