Networking Research Lab
Computer Science DepartmentThe University of Memphis

Photo: The University's FedEx Institute of Technology, which houses several Computer Science facilities



SNAP: Sensor Networks for Assessment of Patients

Traditional methods of monitoring the health of patients have usually involved the use of bulky equipment that confines the patient to a limited area. However, recent advances in sensor technology have enabled the development of small, lightweight medical sensors such as pulse oximeters and EKGs that can be worn by the patient while wirelessly transmitting their data. This can give patients a great deal of mobility and comfort, particularly for long-term care.

The aim of this work is to develop an architecture for the effective deployment of such a system, and to evaluate this architecture via implementation on a preliminary testbed. We envision a number of wireless relay nodes throughout an area that can receive and forward data. Queries for patient data can be made from a number of base stations, which may be operated directly by medical professionals or connected to remotely. Both queries and the resulting patient data response travel through the network of relay nodes. The overall architecture is shown in the diagram below.

SNAP Architecture

Thus far we have focused on addressing the security requirements of such a system. Wireless transmission of sensitive patient data presents some obvious privacy concerns; the data must be encrypted before being sent over the air. At the same time, these security requirements must be balanced against the computational, memory, and power constraints of the individual nodes. Our solution employs efficient symmetric encryption to protect data, while using asymmetric (public-key) techniques for key management. We have also addressed the issue of ensuring the validity of patient data, by using biometric signatures and neural network techniques.

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