Emerging technologies and the law—nano sensors and the Internet of Nano Things

Emerging technologies and the law—nano sensors and the Internet of Nano Things
Nano sensors and the ‘Internet of Nano Things’ (IoNT) have been named as one of the top ten emerging technologies of 2016 by the World Economic Forum. However, there are some key legal issues—including privacy and data collection—which will need to be addressed before this technology is widely adopted, as Emma Wright, commercial technology partner at Kemp Little LLP, explains.

What is the IoNT Things?

Nano technology has led to the development of the IoNT. The IoNT is a nano scale network of physical objects that can interact with each other by ‘Nano communication’. The IoNT is anticipated to operate through two broad areas of communication—electromagnetic nano-communications and molecular communications. An example of a molecular communication are nano machines that function as senders. These can encode information into information molecules (for example, proteins) that can be transmitted within a DNA component. This enables the creation of a nano communication system and networks, using biological components and processes that are found in nature. The implementation possibilities are tremendous, particularly for the healthcare sector.

The development of nano sensors means that the potential use cases for the broad ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) (including nano things) increases exponentially with the ability to connect nano devices. In addition, the ‘big data’ produced by the IoT—that companies are only starting to scratch the surface of in relation to exploitation and manipulation—suddenly becomes ‘huge data’.

What are the key legal challenges associated with this emerging technology?

The key challenges associated with this emerging technology are:


As with the IoT, there is a friction that exists between whether this technology should be developed using proprietary intellectual property (IP) (which allows a direct return on investment on research and development) where users are ‘tied’ to particular technology providers, or whether open standards and systems should be used to exploit the full potential that this opportunity presents. As with most emerging technologies, lawmakers are keen not to stifle the opportunity through over-zealous regulation and it will be interesting to witness what, if anything, is delivered through the adoption of industry standards or whether a proprietary system cements itself as the main provider in this area.


Arguably the greatest potential for transforming the de

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