Characterization of Impulse Radio Intrabody Communication System for Wireless Body Area Networks
Daniel T. H. Lai
Intrabody communication (IBC) is a promising data communication technique for body area networks. This short-distance communication approach uses human body tissue as the medium of signal propagation. IBC is defined as one of the physical layers for the new IEEE 802.15.6 or wireless body area network (WBAN) standard, which can provide a suitable data rate for real-time physiological data communication while consuming lower power compared to that of radio-frequency protocols such as Bluetooth. In this paper, impulse radio (IR) IBC (IR-IBC) is examined using a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) implementation of an IBC system. A carrier-free pulse position modulation (PPM) scheme is implemented using an IBC transmitter in an FPGA board. PPM is a modulation technique that uses time-based pulse characteristics to encode data based on IR concepts. The transmission performance of the scheme was evaluated through signal propagation measurements of the human arm using 4- and 8-PPM transmitters, respectively. 4 or 8 is the number of symbols during modulations. It was found that the received signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) decreases approximately 8.0 dB for a range of arm distances (5–50 cm) between the transmitter and receiver electrodes with constant noise power and various signal amplitudes. The SNR for the 4-PPM scheme is approximately 2 dB higher than that for the 8-PPM one. In addition, the bit error rate (BER) is theoretically analyzed for the human body channel with additive white Gaussian noise. The 4- and 8-PPM IBC systems have average BER values of 10−5 and 10−10, respectively. The results indicate the superiority of the 8-PPM scheme compared to the 4-PPM one when implementing the IBC system. The performance evaluation of the proposed IBC system will improve further IBC transceiver design.