Swallowing this pill-shaped sensor could help you avoid invasive procedures • Zoo House News
- February 13, 2023
- No Comment
Ingestible robotics has been an intriguing and growing field in recent years. We’ve already seen a handful of startups working to commercialize technology that could enable internal monitoring, drug delivery, and more without the need for an invasive procedure.
This new project from a joint Caltech and MIT team highlights a slightly more fundamental approach to the category, packing sensors into a pill-shaped, ingestible module full of sensors. The system is based on electromagnetic fields and uses a coil operated outside the body to detect the mechanism’s progression through the gastrointestinal tract. In fact, the external system is able to determine the position of the pill based on the strength of the electromagnetic reading relative to its position.
Researchers have begun testing the system in models of large, non-human animals. They note that they were able to pinpoint the system’s position to within 5-10 millimeters.
“Using an external reference sensor helps address the issue that every time an animal or human is next to the coils, there’s a chance they won’t be in exactly the same position as the previous time,” says co-author. Khalil Ramadi. “Without X-rays as ground truth, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where this pill is unless you have a consistent reference that’s always in the same place.”
Early applications for the technology include the ability to detect things like constipation, gastroesophageal reflux disease and gastroparesis early on. The idea here is to offer a system that can be used at home without having to go to the doctor’s office or hospital.
“The ability to characterize motility without the need for radiation or more invasive device placement, I think will lower the barrier to evaluating people,” says MIT Professor Giovanni Traverso.”
There is no specific schedule for the system. Next steps include animal testing and then ideally human clinical trials before partnering with manufacturers to bring it to market.