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Internet of Bodies

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Internet of bodies or IoB is a term that I first heard as The Internet of Bodies – a RAND Corporation report into internet connected devices that

…monitor the human body and transmit the data collected via the internet. This development, which some have called the Internet of Bodies (IoB), includes an expanding array of devices that combine software, hardware, and communication capabilities to track personal health data, provide vital medical treatment, or enhance bodily comfort, function, health, or well-being.

RAND Corporation
The Internet of Bodies

RAND Corporation were interested in the internet of bodies because of the complexity of the area. There are benefits which are well documented by others. However there are also ethical considerations around:

  • Data use by commercial organisations (advertising, health insurance, pharmaceutical industry)
  • Misleading product claims around product efficacy
  • Privacy risks
  • Data security risks
  • Underdeveloped and complex regulatory environment

What the Internet of Bodies covers includes:

  • Fitness trackers
  • Fitness software running on smartwatches or smartphones and device sensors
  • Connected health devices: insulin pumps, pacemakers
  • Patient adherence apps on smartphones
  • Patient diaries about their condition

The report came to a number of conclusions including:

  • As 5G, Wi-Fi 6, and satellite internet standards are rolled out, the US government conduct research projects to better understand any potential issues that might emerge
    There is a challenge that needs to be addressed to replace earlier generation devices and services with poor information security practices. The issue of cybersecurity needs to have more attention paid to it, right from the beginning of IoB product development
  • Device makers should test products and services for vulnerabilities often, and devise methods for users to patch software.
  • Data transparency and protection regulations need to be revisited to take account of materials received from the IoB
  • As with any new sector, a tighter regulation is required to prevent false or misleading product claims

More jargon related posts here.