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Smart pills one step closer to reality, clinical trials to begin soon in the UK

Earlier today Proteus announced it is one step closer to making the smart pill a reality, with clinical trials set to start soon in the United Kingdom.
March 10, 2014



Back in March of last year, Motorola showed off a smart pill made by Proteus Digital Health. At the time, Motorola envisioned such a ‘device’ could be used to open up the door to unique ways to authenticate mobile users. Fast-forwarding to today, Proteus is one step closer to making the smart pill a reality.

Today the company announced it is opening up a production facility for “digital medicines” in the UK, and will be working with various organizations to trial the technology. Some of the Proteus’ partners in the effort include the Eastern Academic Health Science Network (EAHSN), The Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA) and Oxford University.

Proteus is one step closer to making the smart pill a reality

So what does a digital medicine — or smart pill — do exactly? While Motorola’s concept basically worked with a placebo and was meant simply for user authentication, the broader idea is to take any regular drug and arm it with a tiny wireless transmitter and sensor array. The pills are then powered by a chemical reaction with the stomach fluid, and are designed to track your body’s reaction to the medicine and collect other data including your heart rate.

Thanks to the wireless transmitter, this data can be sent to a band worn by the patients, and from there can be transmitted to doctors, nurses, family members and other caretakers via a mobile device. The long-term goal is to better track how well a medicine is working, and to also ensure that individuals are taking them correctly.

Of course, just because Proteus is working to test out smart pills doesn’t mean you’ll find the tech on the pills offered by your local pharmacy anytime soon. Still, the potential here is huge not only for tracking the effectiveness of medication, but also for security (like Motorola envisioned), and likely many other uses we can only dream about right now.

What do you think, like the idea of smart pills or are you bothered by the idea of having a wireless transmitter reside within your stomach? Let us know what you think in the comments below!