Free Swimming Endoscope Capsule On 'Fantastic Voyage'

This free-swimming endoscope capsule can actually swim through a patient's digestive tract, and take pictures for physicians. Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) use the energy generated by MRI machines to maneuver the capsule.


(Free-swimming endoscope capsule)

With current endoscopic capsule technology, the capsule tumbles randomly through the digestive track and clinicians have no control over what areas of the body are being photographed. The ability to steer a capsule, aim a camera, and take pictures of specific areas of concern is a major leap forward with the potential for broad medical implications.

“Our goal is to develop this capsule so that it could be used to deliver images in real time, and allow clinicians to make a diagnosis during a single procedure with little discomfort or risk to the patient,” said Noby Hata, a researcher in the Department of Radiology at BWH and leader of the development team for the endoscopic capsule. “Ideally, in the future we would be able to utilize this technology deliver drugs or other treatments, such as laser surgery, directly to tumors or injuries within the digestive track [sic].”

Take a look at the progenitor for this idea, the 1966 movie Fantastic Voyage.


(Fantastic Voyage film trailer)

I loved this movie when it came out, and there are a number of well-financed research efforts to bring it into being. Click on the links under each of the different pictures and videos below to learn more about each one.


('Proteus' microrobot video)


(Cellular projections called filopodia grow and contract
on the surface of this cell, waving like tiny limbs or
porcupine quills.)


(Technion miniature robot propulsion)


(Penn State self-propelled micromotor)


(Robot roams the body - under a doctor's direction)


(The Spider Pill - an endoscopic capsule robot)

From BWH press release.

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