2010-2011

The Future of Wireless Body Area Networks Will Be the Focus of a June 20 Workshop at WPI

Leading academic, corporate, government, and health care researchers and executives will seek a coherent vision for this emerging technology.

Leading Academic, Corporate, Government, and Health Care Researchers and Executives Will Seek a Coherent Vision for This Emerging Technology

Professor Kaveh Pahlavan, right, and graduate student Umair Khan in WPI's Center for Wireless Information Network Studies.

Body Area Networks (BANs) are a new generation of highly localized wireless networks that are expected to support a wide variety of medical applications, from monitoring the functioning of implants, to tracking the health of senior citizens, to performing state-of-the-art endoscopic exams. But if this emerging technological area is to mature into a thriving industry, it will need a better definition of its scope and potential, and a clearer vision for its future.

On June 20, 40 leading experts and executives from academia, the health care and technology industries, and government will come together at an invitation-only workshop at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) to try to define that scope and vision. The First Invitational Workshop on Body Area Network Technology and Applications is chaired by Kaveh Pahlavan, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of WPI's Center for Wireless Information Network Studies (CWINS), and sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

"We have invited these experts to WPI, not just to talk about the latest research in the field, but to thoughtfully discuss the field's future," Pahlavan said. "Our goal will be to arrive at a better vision for the innovative research and development that will need to be conducted—and funded—to better pave the way for the emerging application of body area networks."

Workshop Highlights

  • Keynote address by John Hines, chief technologist for the NASA Ames Research Center. Among his accomplishments, he created the Astrobionics Integrated Program and Project Team, which develops next-generation wearable and in situ biomedical sensors, biotelemetry, and bioanalytic measurement systems for human spaceflight.
  • Keynote address by William Heetderks, director of extramural science programs for the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering within the National Institutes of Health.
  • Panel discussions on body area network technology, standards, applications, and business development with experts to include
    • Jalal Mapar, program manager, PHASER and GLANSER, Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate
    • Kathy Chester, senior vice president. regulatory and quality, St. Jude Medical Center
    • Charles Farlow, senior program manager in the Cardiac Rhythm Disease Management division of Medtronic
    • Raymond Krasinski, director of standardization for Philips Electronics North America, who manages research and standardization projects directed at the use of sensor networks on or near the body in a health care environment
    • Nathaniel M. Sims, physician advisor, biomedical engineering, Massachusetts General Hospital, and assistant professor of anesthesia, Harvard Medical School
    • Vahid Tarokh, professor of electrical engineering at Harvard University, whose innovations in wireless communication are included in numerous standards and in more than a billion wireless devices worldwide
    • David Cave, director of Gastrointestinal Research and professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, a pioneer in the use of video capsule endoscopy, and the author of two books on the topic
    • Kamran Sayrafian, program manager at the Information Technology Laboratory of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, who leads several strategic projects focused on pervasive information technologies in health care

The workshop on body area networks is the latest in a long series of workshops and symposia organized by CWINS that have brought together leading figures in wireless technology to help shape the wireless industry at key points in its evolution. These began in 1991 with the world's first workshop on wireless local area networks (LANs), and include some of the earliest meetings on cell phone technology, WiFi, and wireless geolocation.

"For each of these meetings," Pahlavan said, "our goal has been to gather the key thinkers from a broad range of fields—experts in technology, standards, applications, and business development—to help define and kickstart nascent technologies and nurture the development of new industries."

For more information, visit the workshop website.

June 8, 2011

Contact: Michael Dorsey, Director of Research Communications, +1-508-831-5609, mwdorsey@wpi.edu