One of the big challenges for the Internet of Things (IoT) is how to collect and share data from the physical world when sensors use proprietary interfaces. Unlike the world of the Internet, which has grown explosively through well-defined interfaces, much of sensor data remains locked in proprietary embedded sensor systems. It turns out the Internet of Things may evolve to incorporate elements of the natural world it senses.
The Center for Biomedical Innovation at MIT hosted a recent conference on the role of standards in biologics, since that industry faces similar challenges measuring and exchanging data about biological processes. Natural interfaces already exist between biological systems components, where the challenge has been to replicate that functionality using manufactured systems.
However, biological systems such as diseases can be extraordinarily complex and respond to treatment differently according to complex network effects, explained Veronique Klemer, an executive editor for Nature Publishing Group, speaking at the event. Thus replicating an experiment that has been published in a top journal may only be possible thirty percent of the time, she said.
The ISO's Good Manufacturing Process standards that have been adapted for bio-manufacturing and laboratory research environments may be useful in addressing the reproducibility issue. Further translational research in this area may be useful.
The desire to replace human and animal testing of new drugs with synthetic-biology substitutes is driving interest in this area. Ron Weiss, director of the Synthetic Biology Center at MIT, noted the similarity between the equations of chemistry and the equations of sub-threshold analog electronics.
The formulation of an organ-to-organ protocol is one example of research in analog synthetic biology. Other examples are in lab-on-a-chip specifications that promise to revolutionize both research and medicine through lower costs, better sensitivity, portability, and higher throughput.
The MIT biomedical center and similar groups can help bring together stakeholders from academic research, industry, and the regulatory community. Together they can define interfaces between complex biological systems, components, and processes to facilitate the translation of science into new products in biology -- and IoT.