Posts Tagged ‘ingestibles’

Tech Focus: Ingestible Electronic Pills For Stomach Diagnosis

Wednesday, April 29th, 2020

Just as IoT is taking the tech world by storm, ingestible pills enable doctors and researchers to emplace micro sensors in our bodies to monitor sustained measurements for diagnosis or research.

In this guest blog, Nick Van Helleputte and Chris Van Hoof discuss how ingestible or electronic pills can revolutionise the way stomach ailments are diagnosed.

Mock-up of an ingestible pill with prototype transceiver. Image: Imec.

Mock-up of an ingestible pill with prototype transceiver. Image: Imec.

Speak about an electronic pill or a small ingestible machine that can be swallowed by patients to monitor their bodies – and what comes to mind is often swarms of nanobots.

The reality is a little different.

Today, breakthroughs in electronics are making it possible to imagine such ingestibles, which are small enough to be swallowed so they can stay inside a body to monitor, say, a person’s stomach condition over a period of time.

Editor’s Comments

These nifty gadgets open up a whole new frontier in medical diagnosis and research.

Think the Internet of Things (IoT) but applied to the interior of our bodies.

By emplacing sensors within our bodies, doctors and researchers don’t just get a one-off snapshot of the organ of interest.

The sensors can provide sustained monitoring of measurements over a period of time, enabling the identification of trends in the data, or triggering of alerts to flag out anomalies breaching threshold levels.

This means a doctor would be able to more accurately see the changes in a person’s digestive tract, for example, instead of having only a quick look by using a scope or collecting stool samples.

So, instead of a number of nanobots swimming inside a person, ingestibles are miniaturised versions of electronic devices that require low power and have reliable wireless communication to relay the signals that they are reading.

In February 2020, Belgium-based research outfit imec presented the world’s first fully integrated millimetre-scale wireless transceiver for ingestibles or electronic analytical devices that can be swallowed.

This breakthrough, presented at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) 2020 conference at San Francisco in February, means that in the future, ingestible devices could be easier to be manufactured and be more effective in staying in a stomach to monitor important signs of diseases, such as diabetes, Crohn’s Disease or coeliac.