Secure and Efficient Internet of Bodies using Body as a ‘Wire’

Radiative communication using electromagnetic (EM) fields is the state-of-the-art for connecting wearable and implantable devices enabling prime applications in the fields of connected healthcare, electroceuticals, neuroscience, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) and human-computer interaction (HCI), forming a subset of the Internet of Things called the Internet of body (IoB). However, owing to such radiative nature of the traditional wireless communication, EM signals propagate in all directions, inadvertently allowing an eavesdropper to intercept the information. Moreover, since only a fraction of the energy is picked up by the intended device, and the need for high carrier frequency compared to information content, wireless communication tends to suffer from poor energy-efficiency (>nJ/bit). Noting that all IoB devices share a common medium, ie the human body, utilizing the conductivity of the human body allows low-loss transmission, termed as human body communication (HBC) and improves energy-efficiency. Conventional HBC implementations still suffer from significant radiation compromising physical security and efficiency. Our recent work has developed Electro-Quasistatic Human Body Communication (EQS-HBC), a method for localizing signals within the body using low-frequency transmission, thereby making it extremely difficult for a nearby eavesdropper to intercept critical private data, thus producing a covert communication channel, ie the human body as a ‘wire’. In this talk, I will explore the fundamentals of radio communication around the human body to lead to the evolution of EQS-HBC and show recent advancements in the field which has a strong promise to become the future of Body Area Network (BAN). I will show the theoretical development of the first Bio-Physical Model of EQS-HBC and how it was leveraged to develop the world’s lowest-energy (<10pJ/b) and world’s first sub-uW Physically and Mathematically Secure IoB Communication SoC, with >100x improvement in energy-efficiency over Bluetooth. Finally, I will highlight the possibilities and applications in the fields of HCI, Medical Device Communication, and Neuroscience including a few video demonstrations. We will also highlight how such low-power communication in combination with in-sensor intelligence is paving the way forward for Secure and Efficient IoB Sensor Nodes.