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We study the physical layer design of a distributed time-division multiple access (TDMA) protocol for wireless body area networks (WBAN). The distributed TDMA scheme is derived from a bio-inspired algorithm known as Pulse-Coupled Oscillator (PCO), in which each node in the network updates its state based on its knowledge of the neighborhood. ON-OFF ultra wide band (UWB) modulation is used by the sensors. We discuss the design of beacons to support the distributed TDMA scheme and derive non-coherent detection rules of the incoming data bits and the beacon signals. We further discuss practical implementation issues related to the lack of channel knowledge at the receiver.