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Nina In New York: New 'Ingestible Sensor' Takes All That Work Out Of Taking Pills

A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York.

By Nina Pajak

You know what's really hard? Taking pills. You have to remember to do it, and then you have to not forget that you did it. And then you have to do it all over again the next day! Pain in the esophagus, if you ask me. And boring. And so low-tech! It's like, hellooooooo 1990! Amiright?

Well, now a medical tech start-up company has addressed all of these issues and more with an invention that will make pill-taking easy, uncomplicated, and fun. Introducing Proteus Digital Health's "ingestible sensor," coming to you straight from and the FDA's approval stamp bureau (I literally envision an entire government office filled with people in short-sleeved button-downs and blue ties hunched over identical desks, stamping papers all day long in unison).

It's totally simple. Here's how it works: First, you have to be wearing this special patch on your skin. Then, when you take your daily medication(s), you also swallow a little placebo pill, which actually contains a microchip. Once the microchip starts its special journey through your digestive system and into your bloodstream or whatever (I missed a few too many episodes of The Magic Schoolbus), it will communicate with your patch, which will then communicate with an app on your chosen mobile device, logging in when you took your meds and which ones you succeeded in ingesting. According to the company's website, they also envision the chip one day recording important body measurements.

I know what you're going to say. If you're too busy and important and forgetful and addled to remember to take your meds in the first place, how is adding a pill to the regimen going to help? Well, I don't know. I wouldn't throw out that day-of-the-week pill box just yet if I were you. Proteus does hope that the chip will eventually be incorporated into the actual medications, thereby eliminating an extra placebo pill to do the work.

Foolproof, right? It will be especially useful for the elderly people who have the most medications to take and the hardest time keeping everything straight. You know old folks and their digital toys. They're totally app-happy! If only my grandmother could have lived to sample this technology, curse at it prodigiously and call every member of our family to curse some more, call her doctor every single day to receive detailed instructions which she would instantly forget, only to wind up accidentally dropping her phone in the toilet while attempting unsuccessfully to open one of the patches and ultimately giving up on the whole shebang and forgetting to take the real medications in the first place. Well. I can almost hear the impassioned lecture on the blight of technology on young minds, and the overcomplication of society, and the trouble with doctors and the pharmaceutical industry, and how she didn't need any of this junk growing up to be happy, and whatever happened to the automat anyway? It makes me smile.


Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I'm always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

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