Smart Pills to Monitor Health


Technology surrounds us. Look around the room and list all the technology-enabled devices that can be seen. Now consider this: are there other technology devices that are in use, but cannot be seen? There soon might be if you are use medications that contain computer chips. The ingestible technology transmits signals that indicate when a person has successfully taken medication, even monitoring times and the medications’ effects on health, and then transmitting all the data to a family member or physician.

Dozens of companies and research institutions are currently developing ingestible and implantable microchips that can help patients track their bodies in real time, and with a significant level of detail never before possible. Applications include transponders injected under the skin that contain medical history, a camera pill that can scan a colon for tumors, and medications that make sure older people take their daily medications. And on the horizon are nanosensors that would live in the bloodstream and send data to smartphones when an infection or heart attack might be coming. Soon, when someone asks about our health, all we will need to do is swallow a pill and link to their smartphone.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Show the product at company Web site (includes video):
  2. Discuss ethical considerations for ingestible technology.
  3. Have students research similar health technologies.
  4. Divide students into teams and have them build a SWOT grid for the product.
  5. Based on the analysis, what are the issues and risks that might occur?
  6. Debrief by building SWOT analysis grid on the white board.

Source:   Washington Post

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