IEEE specs way to turn body into a network

New body area network is more reliable, better for hospitals, works on more than just headsets


Please don't take this personally, but the largest, most sophisticated organization devoted to creating open standards, open debate and resolution of divisive issues and the peaceful interoperation of all things digital just declared your body non-standard.

Not yours particularly. They didn't use names or anything, so you could go on believing they're not talking about you.

They are talking about everyone else, though. When someone sets a new standard, all the old stuff is just obsolete. Nothing to be done about it.

"They", btw, are the IEEE, which is responsible for thousands of standard technical specifications covering everything from wireless networking to the design and operation of nuclear power plants.

Today IEEE announced a new technical specification designed to connect all the arsenal of devices that weigh you down like Batman with a low visual impact, and wrap you in a trivial fog of mobile data that stretches out behind you like a comet's tail like the smell of ashes and disappointment trailing a dedicated smoker.

Today IEEE created issues the specification slated to become the standard for how low-power, short-range, semi-convenient, partially interconnectable devices should be linked among the many pockets and parcels of the average geek, creating from a host of disconnected devices and single doughily mobile technologist a Body Area Network that is not now and never was as silly as it might sound.

Unlike most sarcasm, that last sentence was literally true. Body area networking, personal area networks and various other terms for making cell phones, tablets, MP3 players, teenagers and other faulty electronicized devices share data among themselves is at least as useful as Bluetooth. It's probably not quite as useful as USB, except for the possibility BAN offers to get rid of the wires in USB and let your laptop talk to the humping-dog flash drive without physically touching it, which is what it would tell you it prefers if weren't too busy staring into the heart of the Internet all the time to tell you that's what it would want.

At the very mention of the new specification – IEEE 802.15.6-2012 – one's imagination leaps to places where the sky is always sunny and bandwidth is always broad. It does that to keep the uber-geeky title from weighing it down so much it could never network across and air gap, let alone around and through the mass of meat pie that is the closest guess most gadgets can manage about what's inside a geek as well as outside.

Photo Credit: 

Members of MIT 'Safety Net' with early versions of wearable computers, circa 1996. Credit: Steve Mann

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