The Internet of Bodies as an evolution of the Internet of Things

We’ve published several entries and references in this blog about the Internet of Things. The dictionary Termcat defines the concept as a “network formed by a set of objects connected to the internet that can communicate with each other and with humans, and thus transmit and process data with or without human intervention”. Some of these connected objects and devices serve to capture, process and track data or information related to the human body. These objects or devices have become known as the Internet of Bodies (IoB). 

Most of these devices are related to health. At one end of the spectrum there are devices designed to perform medical functions, whether temporarily (e.g., pills to capture and transmit information from inside the body), or permanently (like the new-generation pacemakers). At the other, there are the ‘wearables’ which increasingly play a part in our daily lives, such as smartwatches or bracelets that record your physical activity or heart rate, beds that measure breathing, scales that record body weight, fat and water content, among other things, and clothing that regulates the wearer’s body temperature. [1]

In autumn 2020, the Rand Corporation published an investigation on the opportunities, risks and governance of these types of devices. On the one hand, the investigation explores the benefits, security and privacy risks and ethical implications of the Internet of Bodies. On the other, it asked what was being done in the United States to regulate the Internet of Bodies and the data being collected by these devices. Finally, it attempted to address the issue of what could be done to offset the risks and benefits of the Internet of Bodies.

With regard to privacy risks, there are concerns about who has access to the data and how they could potentially use it. In terms of security risks, they have the same flaws as other IoT devices, such as vulnerabilities that could allow unauthorised parties to access the device. However, given that these devices operate on the human body, should any of these potential dangers, damages or effects materialise the stakes would be much higher.

The rapid growth and development of these new technologies have led to a lack of regulations on their usage and little consensus on how existing laws can be applied or adapted. A considerable amount of awareness and hard work will also be required from developers and manufacturers to minimise or eliminate possible vulnerabilities in their devices.

For more information:

The Internet of Bodies Will Change Everything, for Better or Worse. –

The Internet of Bodies. Opportunities, Risks, and Governance

[1] The devices that form part of the Internet of Things have also been classified into three generations: the first being devices external to the body; the second, devices that operate inside the body, and the third being those merged with the body.


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