Smart Pill: Consumable Tech


I’ve added some comments into the following article in bold italics.  You can find numerous articles on this.

“Following the doctor’s orders might soon be unavoidable advice.

The US Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved the first drug in the US with a digital ingestion tracking system.

Abilify MyCite, an aripiprazole tablet embedded with an ingestible sensor, uses digital tracking to record whether the medication was taken. The tablet has been approved for the treatment of schizophrenia, acute treatment of manic and mixed episodes associated with bipolar I disorder, and for use as an add-on treatment for depression in adults, the FDA said.  ”

Remember in the book / movie 1984 when someone opened their medicine cabinet in their own bathroom, there was a camera and someone would immediately start asking “What’s wrong? Do you feel bad?  What’s the matter?” etc., etc.  Well, now they can just pull up a program on a computer or tablet and see what you’re doing and where you are, because there is no doubt this will be tied in with GPS or some kind of signal triangulation (just like they do now with cell phones–doesn’t matter if your GPS is on or not) to know exactly where you are. 

“The pill’s sensor sends a message to a wearable patch (see picture) that transmits the information to an app, allowing patients to track the medication’s ingestion on their phone. Patients can also let their doctor or carer view the information through a portal online.”

(Or whoever hacks the portal !!)  The precursor to this is the iWatch and the FitBit “health band”.  My Samsung phone came with a health app that will read my heart rate, temperature, and calculate my blood pressure.  I keep it turned off.

I have little doubt (okay, call me paranoid) if it can track ingestion, it can trigger release for ingestion, i.e. a smart pill that can be triggered to release more or less medication OR A DIFFERENT MEDICATION included in the smart pill.  (Think about that:  an auto-destruct system for a human being.  Science fiction has again become reality.)

“Abilify MyCite’s sensor has been around since 2012, developed by Proteus Digital Health. In 2016, British Airways got in on the digital drug game, patenting a sensor-packed smart pill that measures your temperature, stomach acidity and more to help fight jet lag.” 

To fight jet lag?  Or perhaps to monitor passengers vitals responding to excitement level that might be deemed “unusual” just before they try something, like a hijacking or bomb detonation? Notice it says British Airways PATENTED the smart pill; they may not be actually using it.  So what this means is, passengers might take the sensor pill, but instead of wearing a patch on their arm or wrist, there are tracking sensors embedded throughout the planes passenger compartment.  Anything digital has a unique identifier, so if cross-referenced to the flight manifest, each pill is recorded to a name (probably more logistics needed for that to happen, but not impossible).

Might be a good thing in case of a crash: Scan the body, pill ID retrieved, identification made.  Better than a wrist band which might be lost or removed.  My question is, what about existing technology, like fingerprinting, dental records, even retina scans.  Is the smart pill cheaper to deploy?  I really doubt it.

I don’t know about you, but if I boarded a plane and the flight attendant offered me a “pill to fight jet lag” I would say no thanks.  The only thing that will fight jet lag is a good night’s sleep, as far as I know.  I am not a frequent flier, though.

So here’s the rub:  If they can convince people (not just sick people) to take a smart pill, it becomes easier to convince people to “make it permanent” by embedding a capsule under the skin to monitor their health.  Everyone wants to be healthy, right?  And it’s a good way to keep track of your kids.  It’s already being used to keep track of pets and livestock.

As is often the case, good technology is used for wrong reasons, and when it is used to invade peoples privacy, that is where it should stop.

Sometimes that is such a fine line we must continue to be diligent in keeping our privacy– and our freedom — intact.  We have lost so much already!