Your body is a remarkably complex biological machine, which means that diagnosing a problem can be quite difficult. In order to treat an ailment, doctors need to accurately identify the problem and monitor the treatment. That means collecting data about your body, which is a major challenge when diagnostic equipment is limited. That’s why MIT researchers have developed an ingestible capsule that can lodge in your stomach for weeks, and relay data via Bluetooth.
The small 3D-printed capsule was created as a joint effort between researchers at MIT, the Draper Laboratory, and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Once swallowed, the capsule unfolds Y-shaped arms and becomes lodged in the patient’s stomach for at least a month. While there, it gathers pertinent sensor data and transmits it to the user’s smartphone through Bluetooth. The capsule can also be customized to release drugs, forming a closed-loop system for treatment and monitoring.
Currently, the device is powered by a silver-oxide battery, which has a very high energy density. Traditional silver-oxide batteries do contain dangerous mercury, but safer mercury-free designs are in development. Eventually, however, the researchers believe they may be able to utilize alternative energy sources, such as the patient’s own stomach acid. In the mean time, the device is designed to eventually break down and pass through the patient’s system. The combination of sensor monitoring and drug delivery would be ideal for treating diseases that have a strict dosing regimen, such as HIV and malaria.