Human transmits broadband through arm

Researchers in Korea have demonstrated how communications data can be sent through the body.

This isn’t likely to lead to Keanu Reeves hooking up his brain to the internet Johnny Mnemonic/ Matrix style though. The Korea University researchers transmitted data at 10 megabits per second through a person’s arm, between two electrodes placed on volunteers skin 30cm apart.

According to the New Scientist, the researchers see health benefits for the technology. It could also mean that you could track vital signs as people go about their regular lives without needing snaking wires or recording devices.

The electrodes used much less energy than a wireless link like Bluetooth, which means that it could be possible to monitor vital signs like electrical heart activity wirelessly without the need for too many batteries. A network transmitted through the skin could cut energy needs by 90 per cent, a researcher claimed.

The researchers tested its suitability for skin, with the entire device about the width of three human hairs. The report also said that the Koreans were working with an unnamed ‘large electronics manufacturer’ to use the electrodes in building networks for health monitoring.

It was claimed that in the future, embedded skin broadband could be used for heart monitoring using Electrocardiography (ECG) and brain activity using Electroencephalography (EEG).

The report said that there wasn’t an awful lot of point of using embedded skin broadband for consumer applications. 

“You would need to attach some type of receiver to connect an intra-body network to a cellphone, whereas most cellphones are already Bluetooth enabled,” said John Lach, an electrical and computer engineer at the University of Virginia, to the New Scientist.

But he added that it made a lot more sense medically: “We are going to have to explore more energy-efficient communication systems because wireless transmission is such a big power hog.”