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Camera pill could transmit live video from inside the intestine

Norwegian researchers are aiming to develop an advanced type of camera pill that can transmit video.

Cameras ingested in the form of a pill make it possible to examine areas of the stomach and intestines that cannot be reached using traditional equipment, but current technology can only transmit two photos per second.

‘Our pill will employ wireless ultra-wideband technology with enough bandwidth to handle the live, high-quality video transmission of observations from the intestine,’ said Ilangko Balasingham, project manager at Oslo University Hospital’s Intervention Centre. ‘It will also communicate its co-ordinates via radio so that the doctors can pinpoint its location in the body.’

It is reported that some of the components have been tested on pigs. The tests indicate that it is possible to receive strong video signals as long as the transmitter is located within a depth of 5cm in the abdomen or the chest cavity. The deeper the transmitter is located, the weaker the signals become.

In order to work as intended, the pill needs to be equipped with a battery larger than the current one and a light source to make the film transmitted from within the intestine visible. Using a compression algorithm, researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have been able to compress the video to three per cent of its original size — enough to provide video of sufficient quality.

Researchers at Oslo University are working on creating a radio transmitter small enough to integrate into the camera pill so doctors know exactly where it is located inside the patient when filming. A belt full of tiny receivers worn around the patient’s stomach captures the signals.

‘It’s the same principle as using GPS to find your way,’ said Balasingham.

The researchers believe this same technology may also have a promising future in industrial areas. ‘We envision using the camera pill for purposes such as looking for damage in underwater oil pipes,’ added Balasingham.

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