Internet of Bodies (IoB) is an emerging field. Read this article by Dr. Ashish Khare, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Technology and Computer Applications to know more about it.
Your mind may invoke a few thoughts that are not true to the nature of the term, but it’s more about using the human body as one of the latest data platforms. At first, this concept might seem quite strange, but then when you realize the possibilities it generates, it becomes quite exciting. Let us explore what the Internet of Bodies is, some examples in use today, and a few of the legal and privacy issues it presents.
IoB is an extension of IoT, where the human body is being connected to the internet through nano devices that are either injected or implanted into the body. Once these devices are connected to the network, the data of the human body can then be exchanged and controlled. As stated by Northeastern University law professor Andrea Matwyshyn, who also serves as co-director of Northeastern’s Center for Law, Innovation, and Creativity (CLIC), “The Internet of Things (IoT) is moving onto and inside the human body, becoming the Internet of Bodies (IoB).”
We are getting familiar with the applications of IoT from our refrigerators telling what we want to eat, smart televisions knowing which episode of our favourite series we’re yet to see, or eventhermostats and vacuum cleaners talking to us about our houses. But now, this technology has made its access into human bodies where devices and pills can be injected into our bodies in demand to produce real-time healthcare data.
There are three generations of Internet of Bodies that include:
- Body External:It consists of wearable devices such as Apple Watches or Fitbits that can monitor our health.
- Body Internal: These devices include pacemakers, cochlear implants, and digital pills that work inside our bodies to observe or regulate various aspects of our health.
- Body Embedded: The third generation of the IoB is embedded technology where technology and the human body are merged together and have a real-time connection with a remote machine.
With a rapid progress in wireless connectivity, tools, and tech invention is allowing implantable medical devices (IMD) to scale and be workable in many applications.
Some examples of IoB
- WiFi-based pacemakers, to track the heart condition and real time data monitoring of heart patients.
- Smart contact lensesare used by patients to correct their vision. Smart lenses also permit diabetic patients to observe their glucose levels without the jab of a needle.
- Smart pill with edible electronic sensors, used to collect data from the organs and monitor the inner workings of the body. This can also be used in the treatment of cancer where chemotherapy pills are combined with sensors for better monitoring of the patients.
- Digital tattoos and self-tuning brain implants are also a way to analyse very intimate profiles of our health and physiological functions.
- New generation insulin pumps are a game-changer for diabetics, where the pumps can be connected to an app to send data wirelessly for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Connected inhalers can help asthma patients to monitor and take their dosages.
- IoB is also used in Brain-computer interface, also known as brain mapping, where the system acquires brain signals, analyse them and map the brain activity, to help restore functions of patients who are facing disabilities related to neuromuscular pathways.
A bioengineering companyBiohax, has gone one step further with embedding chips in more than 4,000 people primarily for convenience. In another case,US-based mobility company Three Square Market, has implanted more than 50 employees with RFID microchip in their body, which provides them access to the building without anysmart employee card, and pay for items with a just a wave of their hand.
Legal, privacy and ethical issues around the Internet of Bodies.
The next point to be consider is that who governs the IoB? Who will ensure that all connected devices or implanted chips will not put one’s life in danger or the collected personal data are not being shared with third parties or being used with compromise?
This increase of connectivity via the IoB creates several security and safety challenges. According to experts every connected thing or human being is open to susceptible threats, Reports suggests that hackers have found 47 vulnerabilities affecting 23-IoT enabled items from 21 manufacturers last year.
The development in the IoB will always bring up privacy concerns for users as well as the healthcare providers. The implication of this technology can be used to create a society where all behaviour of the patients are tracked, every individual is under continuous surveillance, and the data being used by third parties against you.
The Indian government has recently spoken about the country’s ‘Data Protection Bill’ and according to Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, “Any data protection law should be technology agnostic. It must be based upon the element of free consent, and no abuse of consent beyond the permissible limits is allowed with requisite data protection authorities, and a fair mechanism for data processing.”
Future of this new technology is totally based on the transparency within new legislation or regulation for the Internet of Bodies that should clearly define who has access to our data, how they can use it, and how it should be protected.
- Internet of Bodies: A Convenient–and Creepy–Platform for Data Discoveryby David Horrigan on January 08, 2019 Community , Cyber Security & Data Privacy , In-House Counsel , Law Firm, published article in Legaltech News.
- NicoleLindsey, Senior Correspondent at CPO Magazine,Dec14, 2018. https://www.cpomagazine.com/data-privacy/internet-of-bodies-the-privacy-and-security-implications.
- Sejuti Das, Senior tech journalist at Analytics India Magazine (AIM), 14 Dec, 2019. https://analyticsindiamag.com/the-blurring-line-between-humans-internet-of-bodies-iob.
- Bernard Marr, Enterprise tech, Dec 6, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2019/12/06/what-is-the-internet-of-bodies-and-how-is-it-changing-our-world/#3221962268b7.