Pills are getting smarter every day. Here's a regular-sized pill equipped with a miniscule microchip attached to a tiny digestible antenna, ready to transmit its status to a doctor, caretaker or loved one. Now doctors can confirm that their sick patients are indeed taking their medications on time.
A study shows that chronically ill patients only take about half their prescribed medications, so it's understandable that the doctors at the University of Florida wanted to be able to confirm compliance. That's why they created this prototype, using conductive silver nanoparticles and a metallic label that functions as an antenna, sending its signals to an external receiver carried by the patient. This capability will be particularly useful when researchers are studying the effectiveness of new drugs in trials with thousands of people taking (or not taking) the pills.
As far as smart pills go, this is only the beginning of the wizardry. One of these days, a normal-sized smart pill will miraculously release small armies of disease fighters at exactly the right place in the body. Until then, this little capsule that phones home is an auspicious beginning.