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Pill-Size Camera Is Easy to Swallow

Photonics Spectra
Sep 2000
Hank Hogan

The concept may be a bit hard to swallow, but the camera isn't. Given Imaging Ltd. has developed a capsule that provides high-quality video of the small intestine, an area that is otherwise impossible to image. The quality of the 256 × 256-pixel, 2-fps images is so high that even nonphysicians can spot the villi that line the small intestine.

Coated to prevent damage during its transit of the digestive tract, the 30-mm-long, 11-mm-wide cylindrical capsule incorporates an LED white-light source, a miniature color video camera, a battery, an antenna and a radio transmitter. Photobit Corp. of Pasadena, Calif., worked with Given to develop the CMOS camera, which uses less than 2 mW, 50 to 100 times less than other CMOS imagers.

The camera captures the images, which transmit to a recording device on the patient's belt. The patient removes the belt and recorder after 8 hours, or after evacuating the capsule, and returns them to the clinic, where software processes the data, including video and information on the location and trajectory of the capsule.

Volunteers have reported that swallowing the device is like taking a pill and that the entire process is relatively painless. Patients do not have to remain at a clinic during the procedure. However, the capsule cannot change course on demand or produce real-time images.

Given plans to manufacture and market the $300 to $500 device. The company expects its use to be approved by regulatory agencies within a year.

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