Startups and scientists are working on “smart” pills, or ingestible computers and sensors that could help doctors diagnose us. While these have already existed to some extent, they may go mainstream within the next year, Nick Bilton of The New York Times reports.
The smart pills are actually tiny robots that travel through your digestive system and monitor how everything works, from your vitals to blood flow to temperature in real time. They wirelessly transmit results to a cell phone app, body patch or website.
Proteus Digital Health is one startup that’s working on an ingestible computer and it has raised $62.5 million from venture capitalists. Its pills use the body (stomach acid to be precise) for power instead of batteries.
Bilton explains how it works:
As a Proteus pill hits the bottom of the stomach, it sends information to a cellphone app through a patch worn on the body. The tiny computer can track medication-taking behaviors — “did Grandma take her pills today, and what time?” — and monitor how a patient’s body is responding to medicine. It also detects the person’s movements and rest patterns.
Another pill, HQ Inc’s CorTemp Ingestible Core Body Temperature Sensor, uses a battery and displays temperature throughout the body.
The pills generally take 24 hours work and come out the other end. They can be cleaned and re-used, or purchased fresh for about $50.