A recent report, notes that “in the medical sector, ingestible sensors are used in capsule endoscopy, patient monitoring, and controlled drug delivery applications.” Furthermore, the report projects that the ingestible sensor market is expected to grow from USD 198.2 Million in 2015 to USD 678.2 Million by 2022, at a CAGR of 20.2% between 2016 and 2022.
It could be said that these types of sensors could be hard to swallow, except that is one of the motivating factors – smaller size for some ingestible sensors.
While the sensors for these applications are shrinking, the ingestible sensor market is growing because of the need for real-time patient monitoring, medication adherence, and an increasing number of cases of chronic diseases, as well as improved accuracy in invasive diagnosis tests.
Common sensor types in ingestible sensors measure:
However, one of the newer ingestible sensors marks actual intake time and communicates with an adhesive patch, worn on the user’s torso. By providing a quantifiable event marker, the sensor can verify the patient’s adherence to timely administering of prescribed medications.
As in other sensing fields, researchers are exploring new opportunities for ingestible sensors. At Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), researchers essentially created a tiny, swallow able stethoscope. A single sensor can collect heart and lung sounds.
Translating the acoustic data into heart and breathing rates, is accomplished through a processing systems that distinguishes the sounds produced by the heart and lungs from each other, and isolates it from background noise produced by the digestive tract and other parts of the body.
About the size of a multivitamin pill, MIT’s ingestible sensor consists of a tiny microphone packaged in a silicone capsule. The capsule also includes the electronics that process the raw data measurements and sends them to an external receiver, within a 3 meter-range. Image source: Albert Swiston/MIT Lincoln. Laboratory
In addition to medical/healthcare usage, ingestible sensors, similar to other medical sensors, are also being used for sports & fitness monitoring.