9th International Conference on Body Area Networks

Research Article

A Comparison of MAC Protocols for Ultrasonic Intra-body Sensor Networks

  • @INPROCEEDINGS{10.4108/icst.bodynets.2014.257024,
        author={G. Enrico Santagati and Mirko Gradillo and Francesca Cuomo and Tommaso Melodia},
        title={A Comparison of MAC Protocols for Ultrasonic Intra-body Sensor Networks},
        proceedings={9th International Conference on Body Area Networks},
        keywords={acoustic communications body area networks medium access control sensor networks ultrasonic networking},
  • G. Enrico Santagati
    Mirko Gradillo
    Francesca Cuomo
    Tommaso Melodia
    Year: 2014
    A Comparison of MAC Protocols for Ultrasonic Intra-body Sensor Networks
    DOI: 10.4108/icst.bodynets.2014.257024
G. Enrico Santagati1, Mirko Gradillo2, Francesca Cuomo2, Tommaso Melodia1,*
  • 1: Northeastern University
  • 2: "Sapienza" University of Rome, Italy
*Contact email: melodia@ece.neu.edu


Wireless intra-body networks of implantable biomedical devices have the potential to enable revolutionary healthcare and clinical applications. In our previous work we investigated the use of ultrasonic waves as an alternative to RF waves as physical carrier of information, and proposed Ultrasonic WideBand (UsWB), the first ultrasonic integrated physical and MAC layer protocol.

In this paper, we compare the performance of the UsWB MAC protocol with two existing MAC protocols originally designed for wireless RF-based networks, ALOHA and Carrier Sense Multiple Access (CSMA). In particular, we discuss the protocol performance in terms of (i) average network throughput and packet drop rate, (ii) average short-term fairness, (iii) average packet delay, and (iv) energy consumption per bit. We show that UsWB outperforms ALOHA in terms of throughput, while CSMA can achieve comparable performance under specific setups. However, both ALOHA and CSMA have very high packet drop rates as compared to UsWB. The latter is capable of keeping the packet drop rate under a pre-defined threshold. Moreover, UsWB significantly outperforms both ALOHA and CSMA in terms of short-term fairness, average packet delays and delay variation. Finally, CSMA has the highest energy consumption per bit, because of long idle sensing times, whereas UsWB has the lowest, and it can be further reduced by trading throughput for energy consumption through energy-minimizing rate adaptation.