California based company Proteus Digital Health recently received FDA clearance for its unique tiny ingestible sensor. The sensor will transmit information about the user vital signs as well as how well they handles their prescribed medication regimen. All this is done wirelessly and transmitted to a patch on the user’s body and then to an app on the users mobile device.
How about a sensor that operates without any battery and uses your body stomach fluids to operate? This is exactly what Proteus Digital Health is now offering. Their 1mm square e-Pill is made mostly of silicon and is said to be complexly safe to digest. The pill only need to be powered for a small amount of time and it does that by getting two conductive materials (magnesium and copper) contact stomach acid.
After collecting information about the user including heart rate, body position and activity and of course the time and date when a specific medicine prescribed to the user was ingested, the information is sent to a patch warn on the user’s skin. This is done through the body’s tissues requiring only minimal energy. The patch uses wireless technology to transmit this information to a mobile phone or a tablet which has a special app that keep track of the user’s health. The user can decide if he or she wants to share this information with his doctor.
The sensor is said to be cheap (although no specific cost was given by the company), after all this is a disposable tiny piece of silicon which is swollen with each pill you should normally take so no excess cost will be tolerated. The patch currently needs to be replaced every 7 days and it does have a battery (its cost is also unknown at this stage.
In the future the company will be looking to expand the information the sensor can supply and include other sensing modalities such as core temperature, gastric pH, enteric transit time, and specific molecular diagnostics for particular diseases.
It’s possible that Proteus’ e-Pill signifies the first step into e-pills and other similar devices that will constantly monitor our bodies function 24/7.
The current aim of the e-Pill is to help patients and doctors improve prescribed treatment and drug administration. This is extremely important as it is estimated that one third to one half of all patients worldwide do not take their medications properly, wasting billions of dollars in unnecessary healthcare expense and potentially damaging their own health.
Mashable video showing the new e-Pill
The e-Pill should be most advantageous to people with people with chronic or long lasting diseases such as tuberculosis or diabetes well as for elderly people, who may forget to take their medication.
More information can be found on Proteus Digital Health website.
Iddo has a B.A. in Philosophy and Cognitive Science and an M.A. in Philosophy of Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently writing his Ph.D. thesis on the relationship between the scientific community and industry. Iddo was awarded the 2006 Bar Hillel philosophy of science prize for his work on the relationship between science and technology. He is a member of the board of the lifeboat foundation and was the editor of several high-profile science and technology websites since 1999.
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