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Medical sensor you swallow gains FDA approval

Image of ingestible sensor system
Proteus Digital Health's ingestible sensor technology has gained FDA approval. The sensor communicates with a patch worn on the skin that relays information to your doctor via mobile phone on when and what type of medication was taken.Proteus Digital Health

An ingestible silicon sensor gained the federal government’s approval Tuesday, paving a new way for doctors to keep tabs on your pill-popping habits.

The sand grain-size device is embedded in your pill. Once swallowed, stomach fluids power it long enough to send a unique signal through body tissue to a patch worn on the skin. 

The signal contains information on the type of pill swallowed and time of ingestion. 

The patch relays this information via the mobile phone in your pocket to your medical provider along with physiological data such as heart rate, body temperature, and activity patterns.

Once consumed, “the sensor passes through your body like high-fiber food,” explains Proteus Digital Health, the sensor’s manufacturer.

The Ingesting Event Marker gained European regulatory approval in 2011. The approval from the FDA on Tuesday "represents a major milestone in digital medicine," Eric Topol, a professor of genomics at the Scripps Research Institute, said in a news release

"Directly digitizing pills, for the first time, in conjunction with our wireless infrastructure, may prove to be the new standard for influencing medication adherence and significantly aid chronic disease management."

— Via The Register

John Roach is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. To learn more about him, check out his website. For more of our Future of Technology series, watch the featured video below.