personal operating space (POS)

A personal operating space (POS) is a roughly spherical region that surrounds a portable or handheld digital wireless device operated by a person.

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A personal operating space (POS) is a roughly spherical region that surrounds a portable or handheld digital wireless device operated by a person. The region moves along with the person and has a radius of 10 meters (33 feet). Any device that comes within this region can, in theory, become part of that person's wireless personal area network (WPAN), provided that device is equipped with the necessary wireless modem. Data transmission is usually accomplished by ultra-high-frequency (UHF) or microwave radio, although infrared (IR) can also be used.

The term POS (not to be confused with point-of-sale, also abbreviated POS) is used in conjunction with the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) specification 802.15, which deals with wireless personal area networks (WPANs). A typical WPAN can include personal computers and digital assistants, pagers, beepers, and cellular phone sets. In some cases, peripherals such as printers, headsets, microphones, and digital cameras can be included in the network.

The concept of a personal operating space has far-reaching implications. For example, a system might be configured to function only when it is within a POS, such as an automobile that can be started only when a designated person is within 10 meters of it. An individual's personal operating space might be used to track that person's physical movements at all times, using a transponder embedded in the skin.

This was first published in May 2007

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