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High-tech pill measures firefighters' vitals remotely

Posting in Science

Forget the blood pressure cuff. Starting soon, the only thing needed to take a person’s vital signs may be a tiny pill-sized capsule.

Using small sensors and a wireless transmitter, researchers from Australia have developed a way to check in on a person’s vitals remotely. Intended for use among the country’s firefighters, the capsules should allow scientists to measure hydration and the effects of heat stress on firefighters while they put out flames.

The capsule, which is called the Equivital EQ02 LifeMonitor, is made by a U.K. company called Equivital and works in tandem with an external gadget called the Sensor Electronics Module (SEM). The capsule measures the firefighter’s temperature and then transmits the data to the SEM, which also tracks skin temperature, respiration and heart rate.

Popular Science reports:

While they evacuated 20 people from a burning building, a thermometer and a transmitter within the pill sent data to a device on the chest, which then transmitted vital data to an external computer on the firefighters' skin temperature, heart rate and respiration rate. If their core body temperature is increasing too quickly, firefighters can be removed from the fire to a rehabilitation area to cool down. After a few days, the pill is expelled from the body the good old fashioned way

Using the data from the SEM, authorities will know for sure when its time to remove a firefighter from a fire. Research on the capsule will continue this year to test the device at even higher temperatures.

[via Popular Science, TIME]

Image: National Guard/Flickr

— By on January 26, 2013, 8:28 AM PST

Sarah Korones

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Sarah Korones is a freelance writer based in New York. She has written for Psychology Today and Boston's Weekly Dig. She holds a degree from Tufts University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure