These Tiny Swallowable Sensors Analyze Your Health From Inside
A team of researchers at MIT have developed an ingestible sensor which will be able to assess your vital signs from inside the body. The sensor would pay special attention to the gastrointestinal tract while making both short and long term assessments easier for patients. Athletics and soldiers also stand to benefit from this new development in the realm of health related technology.
The sensor sits inside an almond-sized silicone capsule. The method of using this sensor internally will be very helpful with trauma patients like burn victims. Even though measurement of vital signs has evolved and developed tremendously over the years with ECGs and electronic stethoscopes being two efficient examples, all these are wearables which require skin contact. But ingestible devices completely eliminate the need for external contact with the patient’s body.
“What we did with our technology is identify components that were compatible with ingestion. These are very small microphones similar to the ones that are used in common cellphones and actually listen from within the body and [can] extract the heart rate and respiratory rate,” says a research affiliate at MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.
The sensor works by picking up sound waves from both the heart as well as the lungs, along with the additional noise that comes from the digestive tract. The team overcame a major hurdle of devising a signal processing algorithm that can sieve and differentiate between the different kinds of noise and pay attention to the the heart beat and breathing.
This received data can be transmitted over a distance of as far as three meters. Once ingested, the capsular sensor would stay within the system for about a day, or two. For patients that require long term treatment, they might need to ingest these sensors more than once over a fixed period of time.