Featured Product Archive
The inventions and products featured on these pages were chosen either for their
uniqueness in the RF engineering realm, or are simply awesome (or ridiculous) enough
to warrant an appearance.
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Some things are obvious to even the casual
observer, especially if you have seen The Matrix. Clearly, the über smart scientists
and engineers who work at
CRIM Lab, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, in Pisa, Italy must have
had Mr. Smith's bug from
The Matrix in mind when they developed this 12-legged,
wireless human intestine explorer. Then again, it could equally likely have been
inspired from torture implements employed during the
era, intimately familiar to inhabitants of that geographical region.
Imagine being told you need to swallow this
thing so that doctors can wirelessly guide the beast through your intestines. The
pill-sized electromechanical wonder (I'm being nice) settles naturally to the bottom
of the stomach and enters the duodenum - the transition between the stomach and
small intestines - whereupon the attending physician signals for extension of the
insect-like, hooked legs. It then creepily creeps through the area of interest along
30 feet or so of your intestines. At least for the prototype, it drags its high
energy density lithium metal oxide battery behind like a fire ant dragging its prey
behind back to the nest. Short focal length cameras, sensory elements for smell,
pressure, tactile, and chemical measurements, and other features will be incorporated
into the final design.
A major drawback to similar devices that do not possess self-locomotion capability
is the inability to control the rate at which they progress through the intestines,
nor can they maneuver for optimal position within the intestine for making measurements.
Other designs often tumble during transit, ruining the sensing function. The frightening-looking
hooks on this thing's legs allows it to dwell indefinitely at any position along
its path and even back up if necessary. There are currently other capsule designs
that have some degree of external control over the ingested explorer; e.g., magnetic
guidance, propellers, and worm-like crawling. However, none of those other schemes
provide the level of control that this dodecapede affords.
Specifications for the prototype are as follows: retractable legs, two brushless
motors for locomotion at up to 5.0 cm/min, custom MOSFET drivers for the motors,
wireless bi-directional communications, microcontroller with error detection and
correction for fail-safe operation.
I suppose the upside to this approach over Neo's bodily invader is that this
creature enters and exits the body through holes already provided by nature rather
than entering via the belly button and exiting via a laser-guided vacuum cleaner.
I truly hope an asteroid hits me before I ever have to submit to something like
this (or any other major medical procedure).
Posted December 16, 2011