In 1996, IBM begins researching the personal
as electronic devices become smaller, lower in power requirements, and
less expensive, we have begun to adorn our bodies with personal
information and communication appliances. such devices include cellular
phones, personal digital assistants (pdas), pocket video games, and
pagers. currently there is no method for these devices to share data.
networking these devices can reduce functional i/o redundancies and allow
new conveniences and services. the concept of personal area networks
(pans) is presented to demonstrate how electronic devices on and near the
human body can exchange digital information by capacitively coupling
picoamp currents through the body [emphasis mine]. a low-frequency
carrier (less than 1 megahertz) is used so no energy is propagated,
minimizing remote eavesdropping and interference by neighboring pans. a
prototype pan system allows users to exchange electronic business cards by
Instead we got Bluetooth, transmitted over boring ol' radio waves.
It's too bad IBM's research didn't get more traction. There's something
appropriate to the idea that the earpiece-wearing Blackberry addicts on
the Metro might have to coordinate all that gear by running low-powered
electric shocks through their bloodstream.