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Gut-Based Electronic Pill Monitors Breathing and Heart Rate


Revolutionizing Health Monitoring

The development of an ingestible electronic device, roughly the size of a vitamin supplement, has opened new possibilities for health monitoring. This innovative pill, equipped with a tiny accelerometer, can measure breathing and heart rate by detecting gut vibrations, potentially revolutionizing how various health conditions are diagnosed and managed.

Wireless and Cost-effective Diagnosis

Traditionally, the diagnosis of sleep apnoea has involved an overnight hospital stay and cumbersome monitoring devices. However, the new smart pill offers a wireless and cost-effective alternative. Developed by a team led by Giovanni Traverso at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, this pill has the potential to assess sleep apnoea from the comfort of one’s home, eliminating the need for invasive and expensive procedures.

Promising Results and Potential Applications

Initial tests conducted on 10 individuals have yielded promising results. The smart pill accurately measured breathing rate with 93% accuracy and heart rate with 96% accuracy, showcasing its potential for diagnosing sleep apnoea. Moreover, the researchers believe that this technology could be extended to detect opioid overdoses. By detecting decreases in breathing rates, the pill could potentially send out alerts for immediate intervention, saving lives in critical situations.

The Path Ahead

While the current version of the pill is excreted within a day, limiting its application for detecting overdoses, ongoing research aims to enhance its capabilities. Efforts are underway to prolong its retention in the gut and develop mechanisms for automatic drug release to address emergencies effectively.

Implications and Future Research

The successful demonstration of the gut-based electronic pill opens up new frontiers in health monitoring. This breakthrough technology not only promises enhanced convenience and accessibility in diagnostics but also holds potential for addressing critical health issues such as opioid overdoses. Continued research in this field is imperative to further refine and expand the applications of this innovative electronic pill.

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