In the 20th century, wireless technology integrated with the human body was nothing more than science fiction. But today, Wi-Fi connected devices like heart rate monitors and sleep trackers have become common parts of American life. How has bionic technology evolved so quickly from science fiction to reality? And what could this Internet of Bodies mean for our lives moving forward? RAND researchers are studying this phenomenon and what consumers and policymakers need to know as we veer into uncharted territory.
Mary Lee, Mathematician; Fellow, RAND Center for Global Risk and Security
The Internet of Bodies, or IoB, is actually an ecosystem. It’s a bunch of devices that are connected to the Internet that contain software and that either collect personal health data about you or can alter the body’s function. We think of the Internet of Bodies as this collection of all these devices, as well as all the data that the devices are gathering about you. And in health care, Internet of Bodies has been around for quite a while. With the advent of the Internet, it makes a lot of sense to connect your pacemaker to the Internet so that your doctor can be automatically notified if something weird happens, if there’s an anomaly. It’s natural in a lot of ways to want to understand more about your body, how it functions, how well it’s doing.