What Is the Internet of Bodies?

Internet-connected "smart" devices are increasingly available in the marketplace, promising consumers and businesses improved convenience and efficiency. Within this broader Internet of Things (IoT) lies a growing industry of 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. However, these devices also complicate a field already fraught with legal, regulatory, and ethical risks.

In this video, RAND mathematician Mary Lee examines this emerging collection of human body–centric and internet-connected technologies; explores their benefits, security and privacy risks, and ethical implications; surveys the nascent regulatory landscape for these devices and the data they collect; and makes recommendations to balance IoB risks and rewards.

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  • Classic proportion man in the form of a starry sky or space, consisting of point, line, photo by Adobe Stock/anttoniart

    The Internet of Bodies: Opportunities, Risks, and Governance

    Oct 29, 2020

    Mary Lee, Benjamin Boudreaux, et al.

    Within the broader Internet of Things (IoT) lies a subset of devices that monitor the human body and transmit the collected data. What are the benefits, security and privacy risks, and ethical implications of the growing Internet of Bodies (IoB)?

  • Graphic depicting a man surrounded by potential Internet of Bodies health devices, graphic by Alyson Youngblood/RAND Corporation

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

    Oct 29, 2020

    The rise of devices that connect the human body to the web is accelerating rapidly. This Internet of Bodies could revolutionize health care and improve our quality of life. But without appropriate guardrails, it could also jeopardize our most intimate personal information and introduce several ethical concerns.

  • Woman's eye with technology of security concept

    The Perils of Connecting Our Bodies to the Internet

    Oct 15, 2018

    Mary Lee

    High-tech health care solutions are part of an emerging sector of medical technologies that monitor personal health data by essentially connecting your body to the Internet. As smart devices in health care evolve, the line between human and machine is blurring, and creating new concerns about consumer safety and privacy rights.