What is WBAN or IEEE 802.15.6?

What is the Wireless Body Access Network (WBAN) or 802.15.6?

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Editorial Team - everything RF

Mar 3, 2021

IEEE 802.15.6 is an international wireless communication standard that is specifically designed for Wireless Body Area Networks (WBAN). WBAN networks support both in-body communication, and on-body communication. In-body communication is the network communication between biological sensors that are implanted inside the human body. On-body communication is the network communication between wearable devices that consist of various sensors such as fitness trackers. An example of on-body WBAN would be a patient equipped with biomedical sensors that can measure temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, electrocardiogram (ECG), and EEG. Fitness enthusiasts use trackers to monitor speed, pulse rate, and calories to track their performance. Hence these parameters can be seen via smartphone through a WBAN. WBAN networks are also called Body Area Network (BAN), Body Sensor Network (BSN), and Medical Body Area Network (MBAN). 


The IEEE 802.15.6 standard has been specifically designed for low-power, short range devices. These networks can be based on star or multihop topology. Star topology is a network in which all the devices are connected individually to a centralized host such as a switch. Multi-hop topology is a network in which all devices are interconnected to each other and don’t have any centralized infrastructure for communication. 

Specifications of IEEE 802.15.6 standard are as follows:

  • Database Management: The devices are embedded with fixed storage space to store information captured by the sensors. 
  • Data Quality: The data acquired by the sensors should be accurate and precise especially for diagnostic purposes.
  • Security: The data acquired from each sensor shouldn’t be mixed with the data from other sensors. IEEE 802.15.6 standard provides confidentiality, authentication, integrity, and periodic updating of data from the sensor. 
  • Interoperability: IEEE 802.15.6 standard ensure seamless data transfer across wireless standards such as Bluetooth, ZigBee, etc. It provides efficient migration across these networks and offers uninterrupted connectivity.
  • Interference: The wireless connection between body sensors will reduce interference and increases the coexistence of these sensors with other network devices that are available in the vicinity.

Applications of the IEEE 802.15.6 (WBAN) Standard:

Medical Applications

  • Biological sensors are placed on the patient’s body to monitor health parameters such as heart rate, blood pressure, EEG, and ECG.
  • Telemedicine facilities will provide healthcare services over a long distance with the help of IT and communication.

Non-medical Applications

  • The sensors can be used to measure navigation, timer, distance, pulse rate, and body temperature.
  • The communication channel between soldiers for sending information about attacking, retreating, or running to their base commander.
  • Wireless earphones or headphones for listening to music and making audio/video calls.