In recent years, the wireless body area network (WBAN) has emerged as a new technology for e-healthcare applications. The WBANs promise to revolutionize health monitoring. However, this technology remains in the first stages and much research is underway. Designers of such systems face a number of challenging tasks, as they need to address conflicting requirements. This includes managing the network, the data, while maximizing the autonomy of each network node. Reducing the consumption of a node, the management of network resources and security insurance are therefore major challenges. This paper presents a survey of body area networks including the WBANs challenges and -architecture, the most important body sensor devices, as well as sensor board hardware and platforms. Further, various applications of WBANs in the medical field are discussed, as well as wireless communications standards and technologies. The newest researches related to WBANs at physical and MAC layers are presented. Finally the paper identifies data security and privacy in WBANs as well as open research issues.
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