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November 1, 2010

Next-gen mobile wireless could be people powered

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by Darren Allan

Imagine if you could become part of a wireless network yourself… That’s how scientists from the Queen’s University Belfast envision the future of mobile networks.

And fortunately, none of this involves having a twenty foot antenna strapped to your back, or other such inconvenience.

In fact, the researchers envisage small sensors which will be embedded in the smartphones of the future to create expansive so-called “body to body networks” (BBNs) as we carry them around.

The idea would be to do away with large base station transmitters more in favour of such a widespread solution. The tiny sensors could even be embedded in clothes, cars and so forth.

Dr Simon Cotton, a member of the research group, told PC World: “If the idea takes off, BBNs help to alleviate public perceptions of adverse health associated with current networks and be more environmentally friendly due to the much lower power levels required for operation.”

“Success in this field will not only bring major social benefits, it could also bring significant commercial rewards for those involved. Even though the market for wearable wireless sensors is still in its infancy, it is expected to grow to more than 400 million devices annually by 2014.”

There are other issues brought forward by this potential technology, though, such as security matters. What if enterprising hacker types attempt to crack into the data stream flowing through their smartphone?

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