Powered by Stomach Acid

This electronic pill improves care and cuts risks linked to battery-powered alternatives.

Photo by Diemut Strebe

Gastroenterologists commonly prescribe ingestible devices to examine the inside of a patient’s small intestine over time by capturing video, releasing drugs, and recording vital signs such as temperature and pH levels. However, these devices are risky because they rely on conventional batteries, which contain toxins that would be dangerous if they leaked into the body. Now scientists from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are developing electronic capsules that power themselves for nearly a week by drawing energy from fluids in the stomach and the small intestine.