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Hey, You Just Swallowed a Camera!


As it moves down through the stomach, intestines, and bowel, the camera sends out video signals in the UHF-band. The signals are detected by antennas that are taped to the body, and stored on portable recorders, which are capable of recording for more than five hours, the researchers say.

"The device has a 140 degree lens which is behind a dome-shaped window. The gut squeezes down and will open and close in on it, and we've designed the lens to have a very short focal length so that the image will be in focus even when the gut is actually touching the window," says Swain, a gastroenterologist at the Royal London Hospital, in an interview with WebMD.

The device, called "gulpable minicam," was made possible by technical advances in the areas of image sensors, integrated circuits, and light-emitting diodes that emit white light with low energy requirements. It joins a host of other devices that are already on the market or in the late phases of testing. These devices, some of which can be swallowed and others of which are worn on the body, can be used to remotely monitor vital signs, such as blood pressure, respiration rate, and oxygen levels. The devices are being tested by the U.S. military, NASA, and elite athletes, including marathon runners.

Vital Information:

  • Researchers have developed a vitamin pill-sized wireless video camera that can be swallowed to take images of the inside of the stomach, intestines, and bowel.
  • Other techniques for getting images of the stomach or bowels cause discomfort and usually require sedation or anesthesia.
  • This wireless camera, however, does not cause any problems in healthy volunteers, and takes six hours of video images while a person continues normal, daily activities.
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