Feeds

Japanese enable Human Area Network

Your body as data-transfer conduit

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

RedTacton PC card prototypeJapanese company Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) claims to have developed the first viable Human Area Network (HAN) device, enabling fast data transfer between devices using the human body as a conduit.

NTT reckons this latest advance on the wireless Personal Area Network concept - dubbed RedTacton - can transmit data over the surface of the skin at up to 2Mbps. Where it differs, though, from previous offerings, is that a RedTacton-enabled device does not have to be in direct contact with the skin - only within about 20cm. NTT explains the technical background:

Instead of relying on electromagnetic waves or light waves to carry data, RedTacton uses weak electric fields on the surface of the body as a transmission medium. A RedTacton transmitter couples with extremely weak electric fields on the surface of the body. The weak electric fields pass through the body to a RedTacton receiver, where the weak electric fields affects the optical properties of an electro-optic crystal. The extent to which the optical properties are changed is detected by laser light which is then converted to an electrical signal by a detector circuit.

RedTacton can also "transmit" through clothing or shoes, allowing the useful possibility of downloading MP3s through a floor-based sensor while dancing the Lambada. What's more, you can swap files by straight human contact, so two filesharers equipped with RadTacton devices can indulge in torrid illegal P2P activity and have sex at the same time.

But apart from that, why bother with RedTacton when Bluetooth can already do the job wirelessly? Well, Tom Zimmerman - who invented a similarish via-the-skin data system for IBM in 1996 - told the Guardian: "With Bluetooth, it is difficult to rein in the signal and restrict it to the device you are trying to connect to. You usually want to communicate with one particular thing, but in a busy place there could be hundreds of Bluetooth devices within range."

Furthermore, humans apparently make poor aerials, something which is "good for security because even if you encrypt data it is still possible that it could be decoded, but if you can't pick it up it can't be cracked," as Zimmerman explains.

Fair enough. NTT says it is committed to "moving RedTacton out of the laboratory and into commercial production as quickly as possible by organizing joint field trials with partners outside the company". There's more technical info available here.

Bootnote

Microsoft last year patented a system for "transmitting power and data using the human body". It's based on the IBM concept, but MS sees the technology being used primarily for power, rather than data transfers.

Related stories

EU fusses over cyberhumans
Microsoft patents the body electric
Wireless pain - German style

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Sysadmin Day 2014: Quick, there's still time to get the beers in
He walked over the broken glass, killed the thugs... and er... reconnected the cables*
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Microsoft says 'weird things' can happen during Windows Server 2003 migrations
Fix coming for bug that makes Kerberos croak when you run two domain controllers
VVOL update: Are any vendors NOT leaping into bed with VMware?
It's not yet been released but everyone thinks it's the dog's danglies
BlackBerry: Toss the server, mate... BES is in the CLOUD now
BlackBerry Enterprise Services takes aim at SMEs - but there's a catch
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.