Internet of Bodies (IoB)
Internet of Bodies (IoB) are devices that are formed by the connecting Internet of Things (IoT) devices with the human body. The Internet of Bodies (IoB) devices are ingested, implanted, or connected to the body in some way thereby connecting the human body to a network. These devices exchange data to a network allowing for remote monitoring of the body and remote device control.
Various generations of Internet of Bodies
1) Body external: These are wearable devices that are connected externally with the human body. Examples include fitness trackers, Apple Watches etc. that can monitor human health.
2) Body internal: These are devices that go inside human bodies to monitor or control various aspects of health. Pacemakers, cochlear implants, and digital pills are some of the examples.
3) Body embedded: These uses embedded technology where technology and the human body are melded together and have a real-time connection to a remote machine. Brain-computer interface (BCI) is a third generation of the IoB device.
IoB Devices in Use or Development
The most recognized example of the Internet of Bodies is a defibrillator or pacemaker. It is placed in the chest or abdomen to help control abnormal heart rhythms. This device uses electrical impulses to actuate the heart to beat at a normal rate.
“Smart contact lenses” are been developed that incorporate sensors and electronic chips that can monitor various health parameters based on information from the eye and eye fluid. One of the designs in development measures glucose levels based on the constituents of fluids present in the eye. This allows diabetics to monitor their glucose levels without repeated pinpricks throughout the day.
A “smart pill” is another IoB device. These pills have edible electronic sensors and computer chips in them. Once swallowed, these digital pills can collect data from our organs and then send it to a remote device connected to the internet.
In Brain-Computer Interface (BCI), a person’s brain is merged with an external device for monitoring and controlling in real-time. The goal is to help restore function to individuals with disabilities by using brain signals rather than conventional neuromuscular pathways.
Internet of Bodies is not just for healthcare reasons. Pets are embedded with RFID microchip to be able to identify and locate them when they are lost. Control testing is progressing with employees of a bioengineering company, where they had RFID microchip, the size of a large grain of rice implanted into their hands. This chip allows these employees to gain entry to the building without a key, pay for items with a wave of their hand at the vending machine by debiting the amount immediately from their bank account rather than use physical money or logging onto their computers.
Challenges Faced by the Internet of Bodies Technology
Privacy is of paramount concern. Questions of data remaining private need answers. One of the biggest challenges faced by the Internet of Bodies technology – how to secure the devices and information they collect and transmit. The security challenges faced by the Internet of Bodies technology are similar to that of the Internet of Things, but there can be life and death consequences when IoB devices are involved. Additionally, IoB devices are prone to cyber-attacks leading to security challenges that will need to be safeguarded.
As the Internet of Bodies technology continues to thrive, regulations and legal conflicts will have to be addressed and policies built around the proper use of this technology.