Innovate for the Society
Stage of Innovation:
We have a working prototype
Nihal Konan, Pujari Kiran Sai
Sir M. Visvesvaraya Institute of Technology
On September 14, 2014, and July 12, 2016, I lost two family members due to a sudden heart attack. It devastated me as they were young, healthy and sole breadwinners of their families. I immediately knew that I had to do something about this life-threatening problem of heart attacks and sudden cardiac arrests, which is also the leading cause of death in the world.
The cost-effective ingestible battery-less electronic health pill records metrics such as PH level, body temperature, heart rate and myeloperoxidase protein content using bio-medical sensors from the body. The data is transmitted to a mobile app via a wearable smart patch. This data is stored in the cloud, which is simultaneously accessible by family members or caretakers. The built-in virtual assistant, created through artificial intelligence, monitors the data and identifies, analyzes and predicts 9-11 minutes prior to a heart attack or a sudden cardiac arrest when the sensed data from the pill exceeds to an abnormal range. Through GPS, alerts are sent to the nearest hospital along with the current GPS location of victims and subsequently to the members of the cloud as a precautionary measure.
After four years of research and development, we have developed a solution that can potentially save millions of lives globally. The solution is currently under the clinical testing stage.
Here’s how the pill works in seven simple steps.
1. The pill, embedded with ingestible micro-sized biomedical sensors, needs to be swallowed by a person.
2. The pill goes straight into the gastrointestinal tract in the stomach. It then breaks apart and releases the integrated circuit (IC) chip embedded with biomedical sensors into the track.
3. Two metals such as copper and magnesium that act as electrodes are fabricated to the embedded sensors. When the highly acidic gastrointestinal acids react with the metal electrodes, an electric current is generated, which in turn powers the bio-medical sensors. Then a 1.8V of theoretical open circuit voltage is produced.
4. The bio-medical sensors can record the health metrics and the myeloperoxidase protein content in the body.
5. The recorded health metrics are transmitted in the form of signals from the insulating skirt disk present in the IC chip. A wearable patch needs to be worn on the upper body. The patch can receive signals and in turn transmit signals.
6. The wearable patch needs to be paired with a smartphone via Bluetooth. Hence, the signals from the body are received by the patch and in turn continuously transmitted to a mobile app.
7. The mobile app has cloud storage, so the health data is sent to the mobile app and simultaneously to the members of the cloud (family members or caretakers) to monitor the person’s health.
8. The virtual assistant immediately sends alerts to the person as well as the members of the cloud. Through GPS, an emergency notification with the current GPS location of the victim is sent to the nearest emergency ambulance service.
1. The sensor consists of three functional components—the active layers, the IC and the insulating skirt disk. The IC is sized 10 mm × 5 mm × 0.4 mm CMOS chip.
2. After the IC production, the active layers are deposited directly on the silicon wafers using a sequence of fabrication steps. This begins with the deposition of 0.1 mg of magnesium on the substrate side of the wafer.
3. Shadow masks will be used to define deposition areas. 0.11 mg of gold is deposited by evaporation over the IC side of the wafer. Then 0.9 mg of cuprous chloride is deposited on top of the gold underlayer.
4. Besides the IC and the active layers, the third component of the sensor is the insulating skirt disk. The function of the skirt is to shape and amplify the electric field generated by the sensor.
5. The code transmitted by the device consists of a binary number. The code is stored in the nonvolatile memory of the IC. To transmit the code, the IC modulates the discharge current between high (?1 mA) and low (?20 uA) levels.
5. Data packets are transmitted approximately twice a second at several frequencies between 10 and 30 kHz. The frequencies were chosen to avoid interference from common medical instruments, consumer electronic devices and the electrophysiological signals of the body which are typically between 10–100 Hz.
How long does the pill stay inside the gastrointestinal tract?
The pill lasts three weeks inside the body. After which it breaks into tiny particles and passes through the excretion system.
What would be the total cost of this medical instrument?
The total estimated market cost for a person, including both hardware and software, is INR153 or US$2.35.
Is it safe for a person to swallow the pill?
The electronic health pill is safe for the human body. Because every component is made up of metallic components, which is in the range that is safe for the human body.
Is clinical testing complete?
The benchtop testing stage is complete and is currently undergoing the canine testing.
Are there other existing technologies in the market like the pill?
There is no technology that records multiple health metrics continuously from the body and in turn, transmits to a mobile app where the real-time data is visible to the person as well as to his or her family members and is monitored by a virtual assistant that notifies in case of an emergency.
How will I know when the pill is dislodged from the body?
As soon as the pill is swallowed and becomes active, a notification is sent to the mobile app saying that the pill is ingested. Similarly, when the pill is dislodged from the body, another notification is sent to the mobile app saying that the pill is dislodged and a new pill needs to be taken.
10. What are the side effects of the pill?
None. From our current clinical testing, we concluded that the pill does not emit any chemicals and hence there are no side effects.
11. What is the target market for this pill?
Heart patients, diabetics, high cholesterol patients, high blood pressure patients and especially men with more than 35 years of age.
Please note: This project has won 12 National Awards till date. A big thanks to Accenture for helping us win these recognitions. During the 2017 Accenture Innovation Challenge, we hadn't completed the prototype and were not able to submit this project. But soon after the completion of the working prototype, we participated in various national level project competitions from across India and won these accolades.
Here are the biggest benefits of the pill.
- Provides a better, secure and cost-effective way to manage health and stay fit.
- Prevents heart attacks and sudden cardiac arrest that will help reduce death rate drastically.
- Offers a simple solution for heart, diabetic, high BP and high cholesterol patients to regularly monitor their health with ease.
- Helps analyze, identify and predict heart attacks and sudden cardiac arrests. With a requirement for this kind of technology, this innovation could garner huge demands once released into the healthcare market.
- Promises that with further research and development, it can be enhanced for analyzing, identifying and preventing other diseases such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.