Small sensors carried by members of the public in devices such as next-generation smartphones may be used to create potentially vast mobile internet networks in the future.
Engineers from Queen's Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) are researching the possibility, which could create new ultra high bandwidth mobile internet infrastructures and also reduce the density of mobile phone base stations.
This research is expected to deliver significant improvements in mobile gaming and remote healthcare. It could also help precision monitoring of athletes and real-time tactical training in team sports.
Interaction between the sensors would ensure transmission of data and also provide 'anytime, anywhere' mobile network connectivity.
Dr Simon Cotton, from ECIT's wireless communications research group, said a significant amount of research has already been undertaken into antennas and systems designed to share information across the surface of the human body.
However, researchers still have to find out how that information can be transferred efficiently to an off-body location.
"If the idea takes off, BBNs help to alleviate public perceptions of adverse health associated with current networks and be more environmentally friendly due to the much lower power levels required for operation," said Dr Cotton.
"Success in this field will not only bring major social benefits, it could also bring significant commercial rewards for those involved. Even though the market for wearable wireless sensors is still in its infancy, it is expected to grow to more than 400 million devices annually by 2014."