Proteus Biomedicals has developed an intelligent pill that sends digital signals to an external receiver after being swallowed.
The pill still works as an ordinary drug that a patient might take to control a health issue such as heart trouble or a psychiatric disorder.
But it also has digestible sensors that are made of food products and are activated by stomach fluids. Once swallowed, the sensors can send a digital signal through the body to a receiver. The receiver date- and time-stamps, decodes, and records information about the drug and the dosage. It also measures and reports heart rate, activity, and respiratory rate.
Qualcomm is helping connect the receivers, designed as small bandage-style skin patches, to 3G phone networks, USA Today reported recently. Patient information can then be sent to hospitals, doctors or relatives.
"We believe we have figured out a way for us to bring this to market with a wide variety of pharmaceutical products," perhaps by 2011 or 2012, Proteus CEO Andy Thompson told USA Today.
The cost will be fractions of a penny per pill, the article reported.