May 7, 2008
Report Forecasts Future of Wireless Communication
In the future, Bluetooth devices will be used for more than hands-free wireless communications.
The wireless communications devices could potentially be used in people at risk of heart attack or diabetic collapse to notify emergency services, according to a report from Ofcom.
The new application for Bluetooth technology could also be used to remind a patient to take his or her medication, and after a certain time of no response, a message would be sent to the patient's family members or caretakers.
However, Ofcom noted, "increased deployment in the future may lead to congestion in these bands."
In its report, titled Tomorrow's Wireless World, Ofcom said the new technology, which is being tested in Portsmouth, wouldn't be initiated until after extensive debate.
The report studied wireless technology's potential applications in different sectors including healthcare and transport. It also attempted to envision the future of communications.
The Ofcom report also said that advances in GPS positioning and short-range wireless technologies could "revolutionize the way we conduct our journeys and safety levels on the roads".
These advances could allow for the development of intelligent transport systems that would help cars communicate with each other, call emergency services in the case of a collision, or even apply the brakes automatically if it sensed potential danger.
However, "intelligent road transport systems will require an allocation of dedicated spectrum, given their safety critical nature," Ofcom said.
"There is already a European Union proposal for 50MHz of spectrum at 5.9GHz, in addition to an existing allocation at 63GHz. Spectrum for safety critical systems will require international harmonization and utilization of the spectrum will need to be monitored to see whether any additional allocations are required."
The "e-Call" automatic emergency call-out is currently being debated by the European Commission. A recent trial suggested that the technology could cut ten minutes off the time for the emergency services to reach the scene of an accident and a 15 percent reduction in fatalities.
Future advances could also allow the use of microchips in food items that would provide shoppers with content information to alert them of potential food allergies.
The report concluded that wireless communication was an "integral part to our lives," but it insisted that wireless congestion, with wi-fi users "piggybacking" on other people's connections, must not result in interference in potentially life-saving communications.
"This report demonstrates the many creative ways that the radio spectrum can be used for the benefit of citizens. But other bodies will have to decide whether the transfer of personal data, which these advances involve in the medical sphere, is appropriate for the benefits," said Peter Ingram, Ofcom's chief technology officer.
On the Net:
Tomorrow's Wireless World