Swallowable tiny robot performs endoscopy at home

Swallowable tiny robot performs endoscopy at home


PillBot lets doctors examine the stomach remotely via a smartphone app

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(Web Desk) - Aiming to advance the field of telemedicine, a swallowable robotic pill developed by a startup has moved on to clinical trials.

Developed by Endiatx, PillBot is a remote-controlled digestible mini-robotic camera device that can eliminate the need for invasive medical procedures.

Pillbot is aimed at being a virtual endoscope or a “moving eyeball in the stomach.” Thanks to its pumpjet thrusters, the bot, about the size of a pistachio, moves like a multicopter drone.

California-based Endiatx states that this pill-shaped camera enables patients to consult with top gastroenterologists globally from the comfort of their homes.

“We’re currently in clinical trials with our pill bot technology. We’ll be starting pivotal trials at a leading US medical institution in Q3/Q4,” Torrey Smith, CEO of Endiatx, told Venturebeat.

Numerous stomach cancer cases—11,000 in the US and 800,000 worldwide—are diagnosed too late for effective medical intervention.
Traditional upper endoscopy (EGD) is not performed on them due to overbooked staff and facilities.

Since its establishment in 2019, Endiatx has been dedicated to making the concept of miniaturized robots navigating the human body a reality for both diagnostic and therapeutic applications.

Their pioneering product, the PillBot, is an ingestible robotic capsule. Equipped with cameras, sensors, and wireless communication technology, the PillBot enables doctors to examine the gastrointestinal tract with exceptional precision and control.

According to its creators, PillBot will save lives while relieving pressure on healthcare facilities and enabling telemedicine stomach cancer screening for those with limited access to hospitals.

This will also enable gastrointestinal specialists to handle a larger number of patients. Endiatx claims that with PillBot, telemedicine will advance significantly, and everyone will have equitable access to life-saving technology.

Innovative remote diagnostics

The first motorized pill camera for telemedicine in the world allows physicians to quickly view inside the stomach during a telemedicine session, taking the place of upper endoscopy (EGD).

PillBot, which is about the size of a multivitamin pill, can move around freely in the stomach with the help of its pumpjet thrusters. The user swallows PillBot while awake and doesn’t need to prepare anything other than to skip meals and drink plenty of water.

The current prototype, measuring only 13mm by 30mm, showcases impressive capabilities. “It can transmit high-res video at 2.3 megapixels per second, and we have plans to quadruple that video quality soon,” Smith told VentureBeat.

Using a smartphone app, the distant doctor controls the robot within the patient’s stomach. PillBot shuts down and exits the body naturally within six to twenty-four hours. In addition, the team is working on using AI to make the preliminary diagnosis, after which a physician will create a course of therapy.

Smith envisions a future where PillBot, currently requiring manual control by doctors for movement and camera operations, becomes fully autonomous with AI guidance.

This advancement could broaden its reach, potentially saving numerous lives by detecting and treating gastrointestinal issues early.

The team envisions expanding the technology to examine the bowels, vascular system, heart, liver, brain, and other parts of the body. Ultimately, they hope this will allow hospitals to focus on more urgent medical care and surgeries.