Wireless Power can Drive Tiny Electronic Devices in the Gastrointestinal Tract (GI)
The April 2017 edition of the journal Scientific Reports published a startling breakthrough in the field of gastrointestinal disease diagnosis. The news confirmed that it is now possible to transmit power to small electronic devices inside the body through other sources outside the body. After months of dedicated research and brainstorming, the scientists at MIT, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory succeeded in powering the devices inside the body through external sources.
The electronic devices inserted in the gastrointestinal tract can be used to measure core body temperature or concentration of micronutrients. The development of these devices was stimulated by the need to transform the way of evaluation and treatment of patients. The researchers designed antennas to estimate the power that can be transmitted through the body. These antennas were placed in the oesophagus, stomach, and coon of a swine model. They were able to transmit power up to 37.5uW, 123uW, and 173uW respectively. This led to the conclusion that it was possible to insert and place a small device that could be easily swallowed, in the gastrointestinal tract of the human body.
Earlier attempts at inserting devices included those that were battery powered and it was tedious to keep the battery working in the mucosal conditions inside the body. In addition, the short battery life soon made the devices useless. To overcome these difficulties a team of elite research scientists worked for months to develop sensors and drug delivery vehicles that could survive in the tract for longer periods.
The recent development of wireless powering devices inside the body has opened up many new ways and possibilities in the field of health research. Giovanni Traverso, one of the core research team affiliates, stated that the discovery of a way to successfully transmit power wirelessly was no less than revolutionary saying that if systems are to reside in the body for a long time, power becomes crucial and having the ability to transmit power wirelessly opened up a host of new possibilities.
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