Assessing the suitability of ultra-low power WiFi modules to build Body Area Networks

Pramod Kakkerala1, Frederico Santos1,2, Luis Almeida1,3

1Instituto de Telecomunicações, 2ISEC, 3FEUP

Within the nanoStima project we are assessing the suitability of new ultra-low power WiFi-enable modules, namely ESP8266, as wearables that can set a BAN in WiFi and connect directly to a smartphone that takes the role of gateway, gathering their data, carrying out some initial processing and forwarding it to upper layers in the project architecture. Our main aim is setting up the network in an energy and data efficient way. For this purpose, we are using the Reconfigurable and Adaptive TDMA (RA-TDMA) protocol that sets up a synchronous framework, which we will use to support very low duty-cycle operation. The RA-TDMA protocol was developed for communications within teams of autonomous agents and its application in a low energy scenario is challenging. In the current state, we have installed the FreeRTOS operating system in the ESP8266 modules and ported the protocol to this platform. We are currently implementing the duty-cycling using the modules deep sleep feature. Our target is to compare the energy consumption and quality of data with the most common solution for wearables today, which relies on Bluetooth Low Energy. The convergence to WiFi, by using the same technology of common LANs, has the potential to bring along several advantages such as easier integration with existing data networks, easier applications development and cost reduction, thus a clear contribution to the IoT in general and to the large-scale deployment of the nanoStima project.

keywords:  Body Area Networks, WiFi, synchronization, Quality of Service, Low energy

Poster: Assessing the suitability of ultra-low power WiFi modules to build Body Area Networks