Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Pills for Vital Signs

PostedJuly 10, 2016

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Anchor Lede: For extended monitoring of vital signs, soon you may not have to strap things to the outside of your body. You could just swallow a pill.

Randy Atkins: It’s the size of a multivitamin and, as soon as it’s swallowed, the device immediately monitors heart rate, breathing, and core temperature…as well as activity and movement. Albert Swiston, at M-I-T’s Lincoln Laboratory, says that data could be constantly radioed to receivers, say, on a hospital room ceiling.

Albert Swiston: If you have like a really busy emergency room and you need to triage patients, and you just want to give this device to everyone that comes in the door. Do they have a fever? Do they have a heart arrhythmia?

Randy Atkins: Thanks to the device’s audio processing algorithm, even through gurgling noises of the G-I tract…

Albert Swiston: …you can still hear that lub and that dub of the heart (audio here?) and you can hear the wheezing of the lungs…

Randy Atkins: …from a newly-invented tiny listening device. The technology might be particularly useful for burn patients who can’t be touched…or athletes that need to be monitored while playing. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.

Anchor Tag: The device is being tested in animals and could be ready for human trials in about a year.