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Ingestible Sensors: Making Their Way into the Medical World

By: Alexis Bensen

Doctor’s may soon be able to measure a patient’s vital signs from inside his or her gastrointestinal tract.  Researchers from MIT have developed an ingestible sensor the size of a multivitamin that is capable of measuring heart and breathing rate by detecting sound waves within a person’s gastrointestinal tract (McFadden).  Once fully developed, these medical devices will “revolutionize how medical professionals diagnose and monitor some very serious diseases” (McFadden).  The ingestible sensor has significant consequences that will have a positive impact for global society. 

These swallowable devices, in the form of a pill, can be an alternative to surgery and other invasive procedures which create higher risks for the patients involved.  This device could be applicable in hospitals, sports medicine facilities, and the military.  For example, roughly 140,000 people are diagnosed with colon cancer each year and 50,000 on average die from colon cancer yearly (Rogers).  Previously, doctors have relied on surgery or fecal samples to analyze microbes in the gut, which is not a true reflection of gut microbiota.  This new capsule “will offer a non-invasive method to measure microbiome activity” (Rogers).  The ingestible sensors offer tremendous potential as a diagnostic tool for many gut disorders.

If these cameras are developed to remain in a person’s body for longer periods of time, these devices can monitor patients for chronic diseases or indicate disorders such as ulcers, inflammation, or cancer (Patel).  Rahul Kumar, a research analyst at MarketsandMarkets research firm, affirms that this electronic will offer people the option of accurate, less invasive diagnostic tests which could help cut health care costs associated with disease complications and improve the quality of life. Additionally, the sensors can give doctors real time information which will enable them to provide more appropriate and efficient care because they do not have to wait for test results.  This will decrease health care costs for patients, and patients will most likely be sick for shorter periods of time, which will enable them to live happy and healthier lives.


McFadden, Christopher. “The Top Ten Hottest Technological Innovations.” Interesting Engineering, Interesting Engineering, 23 June 2019, interestingengineering.com/top-10-latest-technological-innovations.

Patel, Prachi. “Swallowable Electronics Could Be the Future of Medical Devices.” CEN RSS, cen.acs.org/articles/95/i41/Swallowable-electronics-future-medical-devices.html.

Rogers, Shelby. “These Ingestible Sensors Can Track the Gases In Your Gut.” Interesting Engineering, Interesting Engineering, 2 May 2018, interestingengineering.com/these-ingestible-sensors-can-track-the-gases-in-your-gut.

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