Purdue Engineering launches world's first Center for Internet of Bodies (C-IoB)

The College of Engineering held a kickoff meeting Dec. 3 to officially launch its Center for Internet of Bodies (C-IoB), a new, emerging field that has been gaining global popularity.


Realizing the possible transformative impact of IoB, Purdue will become the first entity to create and dedicate a center to IoB research.

“C-IoB will be a place where connectivity, security and edge-intelligence meet the human body to usher in the future of body electronics and transform and enrich lives,” said the center’s director, Shreyas Sen, an Elmore Associate Professor in Purdue University’s Elmore Family School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.

IoB is formed when the Internet of Things (IoT) meets the human body to transform it by empowering humans. A subset of IoT, the IoB represents a network of tiny devices on, around or in the human body comprised of functions like sensing, analytics, communication, actuation, powering and harvesting. These modes range from connected healthcare devices such as continuous glucose monitors (CGMs), connected pacemakers and ingestible pills to consumer electronic devices such as smart watches, wireless ear pods and AR/VR headsets.

In 2019, Purdue first demonstrated how to physically secure the IoB using the body as a wire. In the last 18 months, the term IoB has gained significant popularity, and the research in this domain is increasing fast. In 2020, Purdue showed how the body works as a network in an IEEE Spectrum feature article titled “Your Body is a Smart Home.”

Affiliated with Purdue Engineering and originating from Purdue Engineering Initiatives (PEI) in Engineering Medicine, IoB took shape after Sen proposed the concept during Dean Mung Chiang’s “Next Big Ideas” initiative. The idea was accepted, and plans for the center began.

“C-IoB research brings together leading experts on all aspects of IoB and presents a collaborative forum to conduct multidisciplinary research and innovation in all aspects of IoB, spanning from basic physics to device design to intelligent algorithms to in-vivo experimentation,” Sen said.

Initial team members span Elmore Family School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, and Purdue Polytechnic with collaborations from the IU School of Medicine through the Engineering Medicine PEI.

While IoB devices will ride on the coattails of the existing and future IoT revolution, they also will have their own unique properties and requirements for seamless integration of human-electronics augmentation and cooperation — for example, the existence of a body medium that can be leveraged for communication, safety and security requirements.

With the body being involved — via medical devices, for instance — artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) has to focus on new datasets. Examples include: partial/full inference on body-worn devices; distributed computing around the body; one-hub multi-sensor-distributed on-body network; multi-human network; distributed intelligence including in-sensor and on-hub analytics; and extreme size, power, and latency constraints toward battery-free, body-powered electronics.

“I believe that invisible electronics will empower humans in unprecedented ways in the decades to come,” Sen said. “Today we are taking an important step toward the future of human-electronics cooperation. The goal of C-IoB will be to bring multidisciplinary innovations to electronics for the human body to enrich human lives.”