Researchers have developed a flexible sensor meant to be rolled up into a dissolvable capsule and swallowed so it can detect gastrointestinal problems and monitor food intake and digestion. The sensor is a 2 x 2.5 centimeter polymer that's printed with electronics, eventually to include wireless radio circuitry. Additional piezoelectric material enables the device to convert the movement from the stomach into enough electrical energy to power itself. The scientists from MIT and Brigham and Women's Hospital tested a wired version of the device on pigs. From MIT News:
"For the first time, we showed that a flexible, piezoelectric device can stay in the stomach up to two days without any electrical or mechanical degradation," (Canan) Dagdeviren says.
This type of sensor could make it easier to diagnose digestive disorders that impair motility of the digestive tract, which can result in difficulty swallowing, nausea, gas, or constipation.
Doctors could also use it to help measure the food intake of patients being treated for obesity. "Having a window into what an individual is actually ingesting at home is helpful, because sometimes it's difficult for patients to really benchmark themselves and know how much is being consumed," (Giovanni) Traverso says.
(via IEEE Spectrum)