Stomach Fluid-Powered Microchip Pill Tattles on You if You Miss Your Meds

By: | January 11th, 2014

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over half of all drugs prescribed worldwide are dispensed or sold inappropriately. Due to this troubling fact, the idea of combining advanced technology with health care has come to reality.

Several companies are now working on to create ‘smart pills’… medications that are synchronized with mobile devices after they are ingested. Proteus Digital Health of Redwood City, California, has developed a pill that can send a text to the doctor or loved ones when it enters a patient’s stomach. This will relieve caregivers by confirming that the patient has taken the medicines on time.

How the smart pill works:

Patient swallows the pill

Each pill contains a sensor made of copper, magnesium and silicon. The sensor is a 1 square mm chip, roughly the size of a grain of sand, that is embedded into the pill. The information is relayed by this sensor.

Stomach fluid activates the sensor

Instead of a battery, the sensor is powered by the stomach fluid. It sends data to a disposable patch worn on a patient’s rib cage. The sensor deactivates after few minutes and later passes naturally through the digestive system.

Patch collects the data

The data includes vital information such as the time of ingestion, the patient’s heart rate, body temperature and other activities, giving physicians a more complete picture of how patients are faring overall.

Patch sends the data to a smartphone

The stick-on patch sends the data to a mobile phone application and any other devices you authorize.

The pill also informs a patient when to take the next dose of the medication and warns if the regimen is not being followed. The system’s goal is to overcome the forgetful impulses of human mind.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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