“Smart Pills” Will Soon Have You Swallowing Computers


Your doctor may soon be handing you tiny computers to swallow when telling you "take two and call me in the morning."

That's because Proteus Digital Health, a British medical technology company, has recently begun large scale trials of its so-called "smart pills," equipped with tiny sensors to monitor your health from the inside out.

Each pill contains a sensor the size of a pinhead, which, when paired with a bandage-sized patch slapped to your skin, will monitor health indicators like sleep, heart rate, respiration, and physical activity.

That data, after being transmitted to the patch, will then show up on your smartphone, and texts or emails could even be auto-triggered upon ingestion to help you remember if and when you took your day's dosage.

The pill may be at the forefront of an emerging tech trend being deemed "ingestibles," a natural extension of "wearable" technology like Nike FuelBand and Google Glass, which work to more seamlessly incorporate computerized tech into daily life, often with a heavy focusing on monitoring daily functions and health.

While Proteus's technology was approved by the FDA in 2012, the pill likely won't be available until later in the year or in 2015. And the company isn't alone in the space.

HQ Inc's CorTemp Ingestible Body Temperature Sensor pill is already capable of transmitting temperature in real time as it travels through the body, and a smartphone app of their own is in the works.

And even Motorola is looking into the potential cellular benefits of sensor pills (not to mention "electronic tattoos"), they said at a recent conference.

And what happens to the sensors after the pill runs it course? They pass through the body in about 24 hours, just like anything else, meaning a potentially expensive piece of technology can be recovered on the other end and possibly even reused.

Now that's dedication to frugal health.

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