Human society is entering an era of ubiquitous computing, when networks are seamlessly interconnected and information is always accessible at our fingertips. The practical implementation of ubiquitous services requires three levels of connectivity: Wide Area Networks (WAN), typically via the Internet, to remotely connect all types of severs and terminals; Local Area Networks (LAN), typically via Ethernet or WiFi connectivity among all the information and communication appliances in offices and homes; and Human Area Networks (HAN) for connectivity to personal information, media and communication appliances within the much smaller sphere of ordinary daily activities the last one meter.
What is RedTacton?
RedTacton is a new Human Area Networking technology that uses the surface of the human body as a safe, high speed network transmission path!!RedTacton is a break-through technology that, for the first time, enables reliable high-speed HAN. In the past, Bluetooth, infrared communications (IrDA), radio frequency ID systems (RFID), and other technologies have been proposed to solve the “last meter” connectivity problem. However, they each have various fundamental technical limitations that constrain their usage, such as the precipitous fall-off in transmission speed in multi-user environments producing network congestion.
1. RedTacton uses the minute electric field emitted on the surface of the human body. Technically, it is completely distinct from wireless and infrared.
2. A transmission path is formed at the moment a part of the human body comes in contact with a RedTacton transceiver. Physically separating ends the contact and thus ends communication.
3. Using RedTacton, communication starts when terminals carried by the user or embedded in devices are linked in various combinations according to the user’s natural, physical movements.
4. Communication is possible using any body surfaces, such as the hands, fingers, arms, feet, face, legs or torso. RedTacton works through shoes and clothing as well.
RedTacton takes a different technical approach. 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.
1. The RedTacton transmitter induces a weak electric field on the surface of the body.
2. The RedTacton receiver senses changes in the weak electric field on the surface of the body caused by the transmitter.
3. RedTacton relies upon the principle that the optical properties of an electro-optic crystal can vary according to the changes of a weak electric field.
4. RedTacton detects changes in the optical properties of an electro-optic crystal using a laser and converts the result to an electrical signal in an optical receiver circuit.
The three major functional features of RedTacton are highlighted below.
1. A communications path can be created with a simple touch, automatically initiating the flow of data between a body-centric electronic device and a computer that is embedded in the environment. For example, two people equipped with RedTacton devices could exchange data just by shaking hands. A wide range of natural human actions — grasping, sitting down, walking, or standing in a particular place — can be used to trigger RedTacton to start a networked process.
2. Using a RedTacton electro-optic sensor, two-way communication is supported between any two points on the body at a throughput of up to 10 Mbps. Communication is not just confined to the surface of the body, but can travel through the user’s clothing to a RedTacton device in a pocket or through shoes to communicate with a RedTacton device embedded in the floor. Unlike wireless technologies, the transmission speed does not deteriorate even in the presence of large crowds of people all communicating at the same time in meeting rooms, auditoriums or stores. Because the body surface is the transmission path, increasing the number of connected users directly increases the available number of individual communication channels.
3. RedTacton can utilize a wide range of materials as a transmission medium, as long as the material is conductive and dielectric, which includes water and other liquids, various metals, certain plastics, glass, etc. Using ordinary structures such as tables and walls that are familiar and readily available, one could easily construct a seamless communication environment at very low cost using RedTacton. (Note that constraints are imposed by the length and environment of the propagating conductor, and by the thickness of the dielectric.)
Mechanism of communication with RedTacton
The transmitter sends data by inducing fluctuations in the minute electric field on the surface of the human body. Data is received using a photonic electric field sensor that combines an electro-optic crystal and a laser light to detect fluctuations in the minute electric field.
The naturally occurring electric field induced on the surface of the human body dissipates into the earth. Therefore, this electric field is exceptionally faint and unstable. The photonic electric field sensor developed by NTT enables weak electric fields to be measured by detecting changes in the optical properties of an electro-optic crystal with a laser beam.
RedTacton has three main functional features.
(1) Touch: Touching, gripping, sitting, walking, stepping and other human movements can be the triggers for unlocking or locking, starting or stopping equipment, or obtaining data.
(2) Broadband & Interactive: Bandwidth does not deteriorate even with duplex operations and simultaneous access by many users! Duplex, interactive communication is possible at a maximum speed of 10Mbps. Because the transmission path is on the surface of the body, transmission speed does not deteriorate in congested areas where many people are communicating at the same time.
(3) Any media: In addition to the human body, various conductors and dielectrics can be used as transmission media. Conductors and dielectrics may also be used in combination.