Technology installed inside the human body, known as Internet of Meat, has begun its journey through Gartner’s trademark hype cycle. While it’s early days, the analysts say IoM has a high potential benefit for organisations despite the security and privacy risks.
Adoption generally remains low, however, with IoM offering end users little more than convenience outside of some interesting medical applications, according to the Gartner research.
In Gartner’s latest Hype Cycle for Internet of Things released last week, analysts define IoM as “technology that is (at least partially) installed inside the body, connected and accessible via wireless communications, making the human a part of the connected world, even if only intermittently or temporarily”.
The technology is not necessarily new — pacemakers and pet ID chips are now commonplace — but Gartner analysts say commercial and more advanced medical use cases are on the rise, with several well established IoM vendors.
Examples of IoM use cases offered by Gartner include in-body storage of tickets and passes, payment mechanisms, and advanced medical monitoring like accurate drug delivery. Of course, much less invasive substitutes for these use cases exist and those pushing IoM need to overcome its biggest challenge — user security and privacy concerns.
In Sweden there have been signs of a consumer willingness to at least experiment with IoM. Some Swedes have reportedly been inserting microchips under their skin since 2015 and at least 3,000 trialed the technology last year. The rice-grain sized RFID chips hold personal details, payment information and medical records.
The global market penetration rate, however, is less than 1 per cent of the target audience, according to Gartner. And analysts are also quick to point out “it is almost certainly not OK to make IoM mandatory/the only way to do something at present”.
Gartner’s advice is to pursue applications of IoM where the benefits are compelling, then target “enthusiastic adopters” for early experiments and incentivise participation.
“Make sure to think through and mitigate all related risks, including health, security/privacy and reputation,” Gartner warns. “Connecting a human to the internet raises unfamiliar risks, issues and ethical questions.”
IoT tech as a whole peaked last year, in terms of hype, and has now begun its descent through Gartner’s trough of disillusionment.
More generally, Gartner says IoT is around two thirds of the way down the trough of disillusionment but CIOs still view it as a top five “game changing” technology. Currently IoT has a market penetration rate of between 5 and 20 per cent of target audience and Gartner still see the technology as transformational.