EMF Expert Continuing Ed

Meet the New Internet – the IoB – The Human Body Internet Network

IoB is the New IoT

The Body as a Conductive Medium for Wireless Technology

In December 2020 issue of IEEE Spectrum Magazine (the professional magazine for Engineers published by the international Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, with over 419,000 members in more than 160 countries, more than 50 percent of whom are from outside the United States) has a fascinating article, titled The Body is the Network, discussing using the body as a wireless communication channel, using radio frequency and other frequencies.

Medical devices are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the wireless devices people are putting in or on their bodies. The list includes wireless earbuds, smartwatches, virtual-reality headsets and other wearable devices. Technologies still in development, such as smart contact lenses that display information and digital pills that transmit sensor data after being swallowed, will also use this technology.

That’s why researchers have started to think about them as individual components of a single human-size wireless network, referred to as a body-area network. The term “Internet of Bodies” (IoB) is also coming into use, taking a cue from the Internet of Things.

The article takes on the subject from the perspective of the security of the IoB, compared to the data breaches and hacks that have occurred with pacemakers and other wireless medical devices, which are all vulnerable to remote attacks such as remotely adjusting the insulin dosages of implanted insulin pumps for diabetics.

Vice President Dick Cheney commanded his doctors to disable all wireless signals to and from his internet connected pacemaker. He later said his decision was based on his desire to prevent terrorists from being able to hack his pacemaker and use it to lethally shock his heart.

“The Body is the Network” in IEEE Spectrum, vol. 57, no. 12, pp. pg 44, Dec. 2020

What was interesting to me about this article was less about the security challenges technology’s growing reliance on IoB presented, but the key information the article provided in terms of its (unknowing) contribution to improved EMF Consultant skills.

For example, due to the need for improved data transmission and its security the EMF wavelengths being increasingly used for the IoB are electrical in nature rather than radiofrequency in nature.

This is important because, as well-trained EMF consultants will know, there is a range of frequencies, those between 10 to 100 MHz, at which a human body can become an antennae. In other words, an alternating voltage (AC electricity) at these frequencies will cause the body to radiate a signal. While it is a weak signal it is still strong enough to be picked up with the right equipment and at some distance away.

And if the body is acting as a transmitting antennae it is also acting as a receiving antennae picking up unwanted signals from the environment that can interfere with the IoB’s ability to communicate with the various devices using the IoB network. The signals from a glucose monitor on the abdomen for instance, might not make it to the smartwatch adjusting a diabetics insulin pump to keep the blood levels of glucose within range.

The upshot is that the IoB will need to use frequencies within the range of 0.1 to 1-MHz. However signals at these low frequencies need extra power to ensure the signal gets to its destination. This is where acquiring knowledge of an intriguing electrical property called “parasitic capacitance” comes into play. Additionally, understanding how the IoB functions will require a new application of your knowledge of “grounding” (i.e. closed circuit electrical loop).

This excellent and timely article will provide EMF Consultants with the understanding they need of the new phenomenon of IoB in terms of its effect in increasing our EMF exposure from an unexpected source – our bodies own inherent electrical network – and how that adds significantly to our double-edged challenges of reducing EMF exposure and using this new IoB technology safely.

Although the article’s shortcoming is not including a serious look at the biological harm that may present itself as an unintended consequence of using the human body as an internet network, expanding your knowledge of the growing field of IoB is necessary since our usual number-one EMF protection strategy of “distancing yourself from the source” is not helpful when we are the source.

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Chris Young

Chris has been a licensed Professional Electrical Engineer for over 40 years, practicing in nearly half the States in the USA and serving as CEO of Executive Engineering Services for companies dedicated to making electrical power safer for people. His areas of professional expertise include utility, industrial, commercial and government entities, as well as private homes and work places. Though Chris was once an avid electronic technophile working in a corporate WiFi cloud, with constantly ringing cellphones holstered on each hip accommodating the 30 international engineering services offices reporting directly to him, his growing concern for Electrosmog, the consumer obliviousness to it, and the lack of expert understanding of biological hazards along with the lack of health-minded safety standards to deal with it, prompted him to retire early in order to devote his expertise to being part of the bigger solution - living with our technology safely and using it knowledgeably. Today, in addition to his highly respected training of worldwide Certified EMF Expert Consultants. Chris serves on the IEEE committees reviewing EMF safety standards, and he is a highly sought after leading authority on EMF Detection and Protection.

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