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May 26, 2018

How sensors are giving us another way to peek inside our bodies

This ingestible sensor has bacteria inside that is programmed to sense blood in the gut, and then wirelessly deliver that information.

The bacteria, molecules, and chemicals in our bodies hold important clues about our health, and scientists are creating sensors that can tap into this information in the easiest way possible. These are sensors that can be swallowed to warn of gut trouble, implanted to monitor how well an injury is recovering, or just sit on teeth to track the state of your mouth.

The gut sensor is about the size of a pen cap, and it’s filled with bacteria that scientists genetically engineered to detect a compound in blood called heme, and then glow if heme is present. The sensor can pick up the glow of the bacteria, and then ping a smartphone app. (In the future, it could pick up other compounds, too.)

The sensor has only been tested in pigs so far,...

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