Optimizing Data Forwarding from Body Area Networks in the Presence of Body Shadowing with Dual Wireless Technology Nodes
In this paper we are concerned with the problem of data forwarding from a wireless body area network (WBAN) to a gateway when body shadowing affects the ability of WBAN nodes to communicate with the gateway. To solve this problem we present a new WBAN architecture that uses two communication technologies. One network is formed between on-body nodes, and is realized with capacitive body-coupled communication (BCC), while an IEEE 802.15.4 radio frequency (RF) network is used for forwarding data to the gateway. WBAN nodes that have blocked RF links due to body shadowing forward their data through the BCC link to a node that acts as a relay and has an active RF connection. For this architecture we design a network layer protocol that manages the two communication technologies and is responsible for relay selection and data forwarding. Next, we develop analytical performance models of the medium access control (MAC) protocols of the two independent communication links in order to be used for driving the decisions of the previous algorithms. Finally, the analytical models are used for further optimizing energy and delay efficiency. We test our system under different configurations first by performing simulations and next by using real RF traces.