pill robot

Dubbed the Intelligent Pill or iPill, the new drug-delivery system packs a micropump and sensors that monitor the body's temperature and pH balance into one pill. If the body's temperature and pH reach certain levels, the iPill responds by pumping out more or less of its drug payload. It could be used to treat many ailments like AIDS or diabetes. [...]

The iPill's electronic gadgetry, 400 square micrometers in size, fills a space smaller than the area of 10 blood cells. It is encapsulated in a penny-size plastic casing that is resistant to stomach acids. Keeping the iPill small does, however, mean the device can only store one milliliter of drugs in its internal reservoir. But that should be enough for many drugs. [...]

Badawy's prototype iPill has an ARM VII microprocessor, and silicon-oxide sensors. The sensors feed information about the patient's body to the iPill's chip, which in turn controls the micropumps that squeeze out a drug dose. "When an electrical voltage is applied to the smart material of the pumps, the pumps expand and force the drug down a channel and out of the pill," Badawy said.

The system is powered by supercapacitors -- layers of metal that store up to four hours of power. Once the device does its work, it goes out the way of all solid human waste products, usually within one to three days. [...] "We are looking at ways to prolong the working time, and this is one of our biggest problems. We are looking for an alternative power source so it will last for 12 hours or one day," Badawy said.

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7 Responses:

  1. cyeh says:

    "or diabetes".

    I'm a diabetic. My first reaction to reading that was "that's cool" but after looking at it a bit more, it really doesn't solve any problems because it's a unidirectional control. It also doesn't specify reaction and sample times.

    The basic problem with managing diabetes is that you have to worry about hypoglycemic reactions from the medicine that treats hyperglycemia. If you take too much insulin, for example, you're going to get shoved into the floor, flop over into a coma, and probably die.

    If this smart pill gets switched on with a sample rate of 30 minutes, the person who takes it could be dead by then. That's why you have diabetics that run around with glucometers testing their blood sugar all the time. It's a balancing act, and it's not uncommon to have sugars vary widely in the space of a few minutes. Playing with blood sugar is nasty work.

    Now if they made a caffiene pill so I could stay amped all day, that would be worth paying for.

    • anonymous says:

      Now if they made a caffiene pill so I could stay amped all day, that would be worth paying for.

      Um, they do. It's called NoDoz, there are other brands too, you can get 100mg or 200mg pills at almsot any supermarket and even a lot of gas stations. Or is that not what you meant?

  2. nichiyume says:

    does apple have a trademark or whats it called on putting an "i" before a product's name?

    scramble the lawyers?

    • anonymous says:

      This i* thing is driving me crazy.

      First, there was the "My *" naming craze. But then an Apple marketoid decided that iShit is the cool new naming scheme, and as every damn kid out there copies the Apple look & feel, because they can never get a UI wrong, we end up with iThis and iThat all over the fucking iPlace. Makes me want to iPuke.

  3. jette says:

    Does it make you stop fearing death like in White Noise?

  4. anonymous says:

    though I never imagined that there would come a day that people would be shitting out microprocessors.