Wireless Body Area Network for Patient Monitoring in Hospitals

University essay from KTH/Skolan för informations- och kommunikationsteknik (ICT)

Abstract: The master thesis is a prototyping project of a wireless body area network (WBANs) for patient monitoring in hospitals. The goal of this project was to study various technologies suitable for wireless body area networks, complete a requirement analysis, design a WBAN suitable to achieve the requirements and to test and evaluate the system against the requirements. Seven sensor end nodes are chosen to monitor seven vital signs for patient monitoring. After studying different technologies suitable for WBANs, IEEE 802.15.4j was chosen because it communicates in a special allocation of medical spectrum of 2360 to 2400MHz. A coordinator or master will be the center of the network using a star topology. Due to certain limitations in the firmware of the NXP FRDMKW40Z, IEEE 802.15.4j had to be dropped and IEEE 802.15.4 was the final chosen technology because the only difference between IEEE 802.15.4j and IEEE802.15.4 is the difference in the physical layer, while the developed application remains the same, making the shift back to IEEE802.15.4j, in the future, simple. There have been several projects working on the same idea with IEEE 802.15.4, but they do not combine multiple sensors to form a network and the total throughput requirements for this thesis project are much higher. The beacon mode and the non-beacon mode of IEEE 802.15.4 are studied. Non beacon mode is unpredictable due to the use of carrier sense multiple access with collision avoidance (CSMA/CA) to access the medium. When multiple end nodes compete to get access to the medium, unreliability is introduced into the system. In the beacon mode, because of the slotted CSMA access of sixteen equally spaced time slots for communication, there is a restriction of the size of a time slot and thus, the high throughput requirement of the system is not met. The solution proposed in the thesis project is to develop a custom time slot system in the non-beacon mode, where each end node is granted a reserved time slot of a specific length as required by the end node. There is a timer mechanism which makes sure that the time slots for each device maintain the time limit on the time slot, on the side of the main master/coordinator of the network and on the side of the end node. The protocol for an end node to join a personal area network (PAN) is called as the association process. The association process enables the end node to be a part of a PAN to exchange its sensor data. Traditionally, in IEEE 802.15.4, the end nodes scan the sixteen IEEE 802.15.4 channels and when an appropriate coordinator is found, the end node initiates the association process with the coordinator. The solution proposed for the formation of the network by the association process is to use two different technologies. The end nodes and the coordinator exchange information using near field communication (NFC) technology by a simple tapping mechanism. The end node has an active NFC tag while the coordinator has an NFC reader. During the tap between the two devices, first the coordinator reads the end node data from the active tag. This data is required to form the custom time slot. Next the coordinator writes all association information into the active tag. After the NFC data exchange is done, the end node initiates the traditional IEEE 802.15.4 association protocol to join the coordinator’s PAN. Similarly after seven end nodes are associated to the coordinator, the network begins to function. All the end nodes communicate their data to the coordinator. The coordinator collects all the sensor data from the seven end nodes and may send the cumulative sensor data to the backend database servers which may be viewed by the medical authorities, this part is not included in the current version of the project. Several tests are run on this system to evaluate the requirements of latency, throughput and quality of service with two different ranges of 20cm and 250cm. The latency of association between the coordinator and end node is 632ms. The required throughput is met by the network. The packet delivery rate of the system is always above 99%. The graphs for packet delivery rates for all the sensors with a range of 20cm and 250 cm are shown in the appendices. The probabilities for the packet delivery rates greater than 90%, 99%, 99.9% and 99.99% are also graphically shown using a normal distribution in the appendices.

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