Edible RFID Tags?

Researchers at the University of Florida needed to develop a technology for tracking when medications are taken, ensuring that patients and clinical trial participants stick to their routine. When thinking of a solution, researcher Rizwan Basirullah wanted to use RFID technology. While RFID could transmit information that would confirm that a pill was swallowed, it was unsure as to whether or not it was possible for a tag to transmit a passive RF signal through the human body’s digestive track.

After much research and development, Bashirullah and his colleagues were able to develop a tiny RFID tag that can adhere to pill capsules and transmit data once in the digestive system. The system, now called ID-Cap, involves a microchip, a digestible antenna, and software and plans on being sold by a company called eTect, which was formed by Bashirullah and some of the researchers.

ID-Cap works by employing low-frequency (LF) signals and the body’s natural electrical conductivity in order to carry signals from an interrogator to the tag, and also from the tag back to the reader. While the system has been tested on devices that mimic the human body and cadavers, it has not actually been tested on humans. The next step for eTect is to gain approval from the FDA so that laboratory trials of the ID-Cap can be tested on animals and humans.

While the ID-Cap may be years away from actual implementation, eTect has already begun dialogue with manufacturers who envision the system being sold as a package. Until then, we’ll have to wait and see who’s been taking their medicine!