Ingestible Robots Survey Your Esophagus, Stomach, and Intestines

Your body will soon be teeming with tiny robots. Last year, robotics researchers managed to guide micro-robots through a pig's bloodstream using a magnetic field from an MRI machine (just a dry run before the bots infest us humans). Now scientists have invented a camera-bot you can swallow that will slide down your gastrointestinal tract, pausing to take pictures along the way.

The bot is remote-controlled by magnetic field, just like the ones in the bloodstream. To move it up and down through your insides, your doctor will have a hand-held magnetic device about the size of a chocolate bar. Where ever s/he waves the device, the bot follows. The new gadget will be used for studying the insides of the stomach and esophagus mainly, which are usually hard because a device that's swallowed only spends few seconds in those parts of the body. Once in the stomach, it tends to sink to the bottom of the stomach, making imaging tough.

With magnetic control, doctors will be able to keep the camera-bot floating in the esophagus, stomach, or whatever part of the GI tract they want to study. It'll probably feel really strange having a robot wiggling through your esophagus, but it could go a long way towards treating cancers in the stomach and esophagus, not to mention that pesky, heartburn-inducing acid reflux disease.

Source: Eurekalert!