The MIT Research Vault: 7 Wireless Technologies Of The Future


The Shield

Medical embedded devices, like pacemakers, allow doctors to remotely monitor a patient's health. But like most computing devices, these medical implants are susceptible to attack. Hackers could potentially tap into the devices to gauge a person's health or, worse yet, deliver unauthorized medical attention, such as electric shocks.

New embedded devices can be encrypted to prevent this -- but what about the more than 300,000 people in the U.S. alone already relying them? Should they have to re-undergo surgery to make sure they're safe?

Not according to Shyam Gollakota, a former MIT grad and assistant professor at the University of Washington. Gollakota has discovered the Shield, a wearable device (it looks almost like a necklace) that can protect medical implants from attacks without requiring modification to the implant itself. It works by using a novel radio design that allows it to jam the embedded device's messages so that unauthorized users can't decode them, while the doctors and patients still can.