The Internet of Bodies (IoB) is one of the coolest technologies to come from the development of the Internet of Things (IoT). It is cool when machines and devices are connected to the internet, to each other and to thousands and thousands of other devices … but when it comes to our bodies, this “connection” takes on a completely different meaning!
What is the Internet of Bodies (IoB)?
The Internet of Bodies (IoB) refers to devices placed or implanted in or on the human body. Wirelessly connected thermostats, cars or refrigerators are part of the Internet of Things (IoT). Devices placed on or in the body that maintain a continuous dialogue between your body and multiple endpoints accessed through the internet and comprise the IoB!
Once these devices are connected, data is exchanged and collected. Most of the time, the device can be remotely monitored and controlled. IoB devices bring an intimate interplay between humans and the data that is collected. As the data is collected it is analyzed and used in very different ways.
There are 3 Types of IOBs
- External devices: Wearables like an Apple Watch and Fit Bits
- Internal use: Implants like pacemakers
- Embedded in the body: in the skin or brain allowing real-time connections
The Smart Pill
Already out in the market and being used are ingestible sensors in the form of a pill. Once this pill is inside the body it can do things like - evaluate the temperature or chemical make-up inside the intestines as it travels through the body and collects this data.
Smart Contact Lenses
“Smart” contact lenses integrate chips and sensors that monitor health issues based on info from the eye and fluid around the eye. A future application might be to measure glucose levels, instead of making diabetic patients do finger pricks throughout the day.
Outside of healthcare, these “smart content lenses,” are being created to allow people to record images and videos. There is even a zoom feature that might allow for super-human eyesight. Many large companies around the globe (Google, Samsung and others) are fully committed to the development of devices like these.
IoB Privacy Risks
There are millions of IoB devices in use today that track, record and store the user’s personal information. Sometimes this information is geo-physical and tracks an individual’s movement patterns. In some cases, the devices are monitoring bodily functions … which raises important questions regarding the authority to access this info and data, and how it is used and shared.
Right now, there is patchwork of regulations in the U.S. around IoB devices, but it is unclear how safe they are or how they are to be enforces.
Mary Lee a mathematician from RAND Corp exclaims,
“When it comes to regulating the Internet of Bodies, it’s the Wild West!”
There are many benefits to using these technologies, and the devices that are in development will be incredible and lifesaving. But along with this progress, there will be a continuing need for a larger discussion on the privacy and risks of these devices … and there are other important questions about the safety of the information collected and cyber-security issues!
So, stay tuned … there are many new IoB devices that will be released in the coming months.