Emerging Tech

Forget laxatives — this electronic pill will literally shake the crap out of you

Suffering from constipation? Well, put down the spoon containing your fiber-rich breakfast cereal. What you really need is a vibrating smart pill that will shake the crap out of you. And we mean that literally. Created by a startup in Israel, the so-called Vibrant capsule promises a “chemical-free and safe treatment” for patients suffering from, err, blockages.

They work by vibrating inside the GI tract, thereby inducing peristalsis, the muscular contractions that take place as your waste is moved through the digestive tract toward the rectum. The capsule’s vibration schedule is controlled by an algorithm, predefined by Vibrant’s research and development team and gastroenterologists. It is activated by a base unit that transfers the data to the capsule. Once the “problem” has been solved, the capsule is washed out of the body with the bowel movement.

While the idea of swallowing a vibrating pellet sounds, frankly, a bit crazy, it does actually work, according to some researchers who recently put it through tests in the U.S. Satish Rao and colleagues from Georgia’s Augusta University tested it in two clinical trials and found that it is able to relieve constipation as advertised.

“Two randomized sham-controlled studies were performed in nearly 250 patients with chronic constipation using single or multiple vibrations per day,” Rao, professor of medicine at Augusta, told Digital Trends. “In both trials, subjects took five capsules per week, on five separate days. Patients receiving Vibrant capsules had significantly greater bowel movements than [the] sham group. Specifically, we noted that Vibrant augments normal colonic biorhythm, and the increased bowel movements coincided with, or around the time of, Vibrant activation.”

The majority of participants did not report feeling any vibrating sensation in their gut while the smart pills were doing their thing. Nor were any major side effects reported by participants. The results of the study are set to be presented this week at the annual meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology.

“The next step is to perform a sham-controlled phase 3 RCT that will begin January 2019 across multiple sites,” Rao said. “If this confirms efficacy and safety, the next step is [Food and Drug Administration] approval and marketing.”

With any luck, it won’t be too long before the capsules are available on U.S. shores. Hey, who doesn’t enjoy a bit of cutting-edge poop-related technology? Especially when, as is apparently the case here, it works so well.

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Emerging Tech – Digital Trends