IMEC, a Dutch research organization, has developed a wireless body area network (BAN), dubbed Human + +
, which transmits data from the body, and sends alerts to a plain-old cell phone
. According to New Scientist, IMEC uses electrocardiogram sensors, which are connected to a small transmitter hanging on a necklace, and short-range wireless nodes beam data every 100 milliseconds. After receiving the data on a phone, the patient can forward it to a doctor using a Wi-Fi or 3G connection -- much like sending an e-mail or text. Along with monitoring vital signs, the system also sends alerts. For example, a person with an implanted defibrillator can, as a warning, be shocked if his heart rate jumps too high. With the BAN, the person would receive a digital alert instead of an uncomfortable shock if his heart rate were to spike. In the future, cell phones could be used to remotely monitor a person's health, offering convenience and lower healthcare costs -- two things we'd love to see happen in the U.S.