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An emerging body area network (BAN) technology is gearing up to compete with Bluetooth Low Energy across a broad range of medical and consumer applications. The competition comes as medical devices are increasingly adopting a growing set of wireless network technologies including Wi-Fi and Zigbee.

Backers of the IEEE 802.15.6 effort say the standard could be completed this year and products based on it could ship in 2012. The specification promises a range of implementations roughly on par with Bluetooth bandwidth and range but at much lower power consumption and less interference.

GE aims to use the technology in a broad range of hospital patient monitors. Since 2008, it has lobbied the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to open up spectrum in the 2.4 GHz band for such devices, replacing today’s expensive and cumbersome wired links.

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