Engineers design smart pill that signals when it's swallowed, dissolves

Engineers have developed a smart pill with a tiny microchip and digestible antenna that automatically sends an alert when medicine is ingested.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor

Engineers have developed a prototype of a standard pill capsule that contains a tiny microchip and digestible antenna that automatically sends an alert when medicine is ingested.

Researchers at the University of Florida say their smart pill is an important step in ensuring that patients take their medication on time to avoid causing or complicating medical issues.

The value proposition: a smart pill is cheaper than a hospitalization.

According to the American Heart Association, 10 percent of hospital admissions result from patients not following prescription guidelines.

Other studies have pegged some 218,000 deaths annually from not taking medication properly.

Taking medication isn't an issue if you're newly sick. But patients with chronic diseases take just half of their prescribed medications.

For scientists, that means that experimental trial results can be skewed or entirely useless.

But doctors can't ensure visual confirmation every time. So Florida researchers designed a standard white capsule coated with a label embossed with tiny, silver lines.

Inside the pill is a tiny microchip that's about the size of the period at the end of this sentence.

Those lines? The antenna, printed using ink made of nontoxic, conductive silver nanoparticles.

When a patient takes the pill, it tells a small, standalone electronic device carried on his or her person, which in turn alerts a doctor or family member's cell phone or laptop that the pill has been ingested.

The pill needs no battery because the portable device sends it power through imperceptible bursts of extremely low-voltage electricity.

In an interesting twist, the antenna can be broken down by a patient's stomach acid. (The microchip is passed through the gastrointestinal tract.)

The researchers say the system has been successfully tested in artificial human models and cadavers.

[via Futurity]

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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