By Fernández-López, H.; Afonso, J.A.; Correia, J.H.; Simoes, R.
This paper presents experimental results of the communication performance evaluation of a prototype ZigBee-based patient monitoring system commissioned in an in-patient floor of a Portuguese hospital (HPG – Hospital Privado de Guimar~aes). Besides, it revisits relevant problems that affect the performance of nonbeacon-enabled ZigBee networks. Initially, the presence of hidden-nodes and the impact of sensor node mobility are discussed. It was observed, for instance, that the message delivery ratio in a star network consisting of six wireless electrocardiogram sensor devices may decrease from 100% when no hidden-nodes are present to 83.96% when half of the sensor devices are unable to detect the transmissions made by the other half. An additional aspect which affects the communication reliability is a deadlock condition that can occur if routers are unable to process incoming packets during the backoff part of the CSMA-CA mechanism. A simple approach to increase the message delivery ratio in this case is proposed and its effectiveness is verified. The discussion and results presented in this paper aim to contribute to the design of efficient networks, and are valid to other scenarios and environments rather than hospitals.