Next-generation ingestible devices: sensing, locomotion and navigation

Physiol Meas. 2021 May 11;42(4). doi: 10.1088/1361-6579/abedc0.


There is significant interest in exploring the human body's internal activities and measuring important parameters to understand, treat and diagnose the digestive system environment and related diseases. Wireless capsule endoscopy (WCE) is widely used for gastrointestinal (GI) tract exploration due to its effectiveness as it provides no pain and is totally tolerated by the patient. Current ingestible sensing technology provides a valuable diagnostic tool to establish a platform for monitoring the physiological and biological activities inside the human body. It is also used for visualizing the GI tract to observe abnormalities by recording the internal cavity while moving. However, the capsule endoscopy is still passive, and there is no successful locomotion method to control its mobility through the whole GI tract. Drug delivery, localization of abnormalities, cost reduction and time consumption are improvements that can be gained from having active ingestible WCEs. In this article, the current technological developments of ingestible devices including sensing, locomotion and navigation are discussed and compared. The main features required to implement next-generation active WCEs are explored. The methods are evaluated in terms of the most important features such as safety, velocity, complexity of design, control, and power consumption.

Keywords: bio-inspired mechanisms; capsule endoscopy locomotion; electromagnetic platform; gastrointestinal (GI) tract; ingestible sensors; swallowable devices; wireless capsule endoscopy (WCE).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Capsule Endoscopy*
  • Humans
  • Locomotion