Physiological Features from an On-Body Radio Propagation Channel

  • M.O. Munoz, R. Foster, Y. Hao
  • May 2012, Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
  • DOI: 10.1109/bsn.2012.29

What is it about?

More and more, people are using "wearables" - from Bluetooth headphones or hands-free headsets, to fitness trackers, to smart watches: rapid growth in this area has been seen and is set to continue. Such devices communicate with a smart phone uses wireless communications, usually Bluetooth operating at 2.45 GHz. The conditions experience by the radio link are strongly affected by the activity of the person. In this paper, we investigate the radio channel during sports activity. We further examine the possibility of whether physiological data, such as breathing rate and heart rate, can be identified from the variation in the radio channel, concluding that breathing rate can be seen, but not heart rate.

Why is it important?

Wearable devices are becoming increasingly popular and are an important part of the quantified self and digital health movements. They typically reply on accelerometers to detect movement, and other sensors for physiological signals (e.g., temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate). Detection of breathing rate typically requires a restrictive band worn around the chest. We have shown that it seems possible, in principle, to detect breathing rates during periods of exertion, though more work is required to refine the process and achieve accurate data. Furthermore, the smart home and internet of things will require context to understand user requirements at any given time. The radio channel may add to the sources providing such context.


Dr Robert N Foster
University of Birmingham

This conference paper contains some of the early results for the IEEE Trans. Ant. Prop. paper “Exploring Physiological Parameters in Dynamic WBAN Channels” (

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Robert N Foster