: Single-use capsules filled with microelectronics were first developed in the 1980s when a thermometer pill was used to monitor astronauts’ body temperature while they were encased in a spacesuit. Now scientists are testing a similar device that can perform three functions at once. Albert Swiston of MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory and his colleagues have developed
an ingestible, ultraminiature capsule that contains a microphone, thermometer, and battery. Once swallowed, the capsule travels through a patient’s digestive system, monitoring body temperature and heart and respiratory rates. The researchers say their device is designed for use by the military to monitor soldiers working in extreme climates, such as those of Iraq and Afghanistan, where high temperatures have been known to cause liver damage, kidney failure, and death. In addition, the pill could have other uses, such as in athletes and in patients with burns or suspected heart conditions.