Internet of Me: ‘Fail fast’ doesn’t work when your health is at...
Internet of Me
Credit: Unlimited Tomorrow

Internet of Me: ‘Fail fast’ doesn’t work when your health is at stake

Matt Anderson, President and Chief Digital Officer at Arrow Electronics, explains why a fail fast approach to development and security won’t work for the emerging Internet of Me.

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An occasional series of vendor perspectives on the world of connected business.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is delivering transformative solutions that are changing the way we live and work. However, these products are becoming so deeply intertwined with our lives that their security will likely be the single biggest risk to their long-term success.

This is true enough when the IoT is merely responsible for securing our door locks, adjusting our thermostats, and tracking our steps. However, life-changing connected devices will also become life-saving when utilised within biotechnology applications that are poised to transform us as well – and when that happens, the stakes for security and seamless functionality increase by enormously.

Still relatively nascent, out of the IoT will arise the ‘Internet of Me’ (IoMe): connected devices even more closely associated with their individual users on a personal and even physical level. In many cases, these connected IoMe solutions will embed into our bodies to monitor and actively regulate key biological functions, or to give us new abilities.

An arm that learns

For instance, next-gen prosthetic limbs from Unlimited Tomorrow are utilising highly-tuned biometric sensors to read nerve signals from their users’ bodies, all in tandem with AI chips capable of learning muscle memory.

Just look at how powerful processors are becoming. For example, the recently announced NVIDIA Jetson Xavier processor is a chip purpose-built for AI robotics applications that can pump out 10 teraFLOPS of computing power.

This will enable an arm to take advantage of vast nerve signal and telemetry data and make intelligent movements in real-time. The result is a human who can control his or her new custom 3D-printed limb in a very similar way to how the brain controls organic limbs. This is a life-changing biotechnological advancement.

For children who require prosthetic limbs, the cost of replacing the arm as they grow can be up to $100,000. However, that is reduced by almost 90 percent with a solution like that from Unlimited Tomorrow – and all the AI intelligence that is accrued with the individual patient is transferred to each new arm.

A connected insulin pump

In another example of where the IoMe is headed: a diabetic friend of mine recently received a new insulin pump, a low-profile device that uses a connected sensor built right into his body to track his blood sugar – again, all in real-time – and send that data to his phone. The solution allows him to regulate his insulin far more simply and effectively than ever before.

Similarly, a Phillips CPAP device another friend lives with can now tap into internet connectivity to allow medical professionals to easily monitor and manage his sleep apnea, and control oxygen or respiratory drug delivery, as needed.

Securing the Internet of Me

IoMe technology will make myriad meaningful differences in many people’s lives. But this is also why the industry must come together to make sure IoMe solutions are absolutely, unequivocally secure.

While diving headlong into new technology areas is common in IT, and perhaps particularly so in consumer IoT development, where ‘failing fast’ within an iterative process is a popular and celebrated strategy, it’s imperative that IoMe developers instead proceed in a far more deliberate and safe manner.

The risks are too great to rush in without a firmer foundation in providing stalwart security and understanding the technology’s true impacts on health outcomes.

The outlook for this technology is tremendously exciting. Diabetics eagerly anticipate insulin pumps that deliver real-time info on their blood sugar and dynamically manage their insulin level.

The promise of improving both health and well-being through intelligent, self-orchestrating solutions is extraordinary. But we have to do this right, and do it right from the beginning.

IoT security breaches can be scary enough when the devices affected aren’t connected to our own bodies. A virtual carjacking that can cut the engine of a connected car going 70 mph on the freeway could certainly be life threatening.

News stories of cloud-connected IoT toys hacked to spy on households and ransom personal data have the effect of reducing the public’s willingness to embrace IoT technologies.

In the IoT and IoMe space, examples like connected pacemakers found to include high-risk vulnerabilities are a frightening danger to both patients and to public trust in the broader industry here.

When it comes to insulin pumps capable of delivering fatal dosages, CPAP machines where hackers can adjust or turn off your air supply, and other such systems where security needs to be non-negotiable, the quality assurance phase of product development must necessarily be lengthy and meticulous.

The fail fast instinct of technology developers must be replaced with a dedication to ‘never fail’ solutions, built to withstand threats and failures as if their users’ lives depended on it – because in so many these cases they will.

Internet of Business says: This opinion piece has been provided by Arrow Electronics, and not by our independent editorial team.