Tearing down a colonoscopy pill camera

Normally, colonoscopies are rather invasive affairs. Swallowing a small pill with a camera is much more amenable to a patient’s dignity and are seeing increasing usage in colon cancer screening. [Mike] acquired a pillcam from a relative who underwent the procedure and did a teardown to figure out how it works.

To get the video signal out of the body, the pillcam has two contacts that conduct the video signal through the body to stick-on contacts; It’s a more power efficient way of doing things versus a radio transmitter. After opening the plastic and metal capsule, [Mike] found three batteries and an impressively small circuit that contained an array of LEDs, a camera, and what might be a small MCU.

Taking a scope to the electronics in the pill, [Mike] found an impressively complex waveform that sends uncompressed image data to the receiver every few seconds. Although the camera was somewhat destroyed in the teardown, we’re pretty confident [Mike] could decode the image data if he had another… ‘sample.’

[Mike] says if you can ‘retrieve’ another one of these pill cameras, he’ll gladly accept any donations and look into the differences between different makes and models. Just make sure you sanitize it first. After the break you can see [Mike]’s teardown and the inevitable poop jokes in the comments. One last thing – if you’re over 50, doctors should be looking at your colon every 5 or 10 years. Get screened.

Continue reading “Tearing down a colonoscopy pill camera”

Building an artificial heart with ferrofluids

Here’s something we thought we’d never see on Hackaday. [Chris Suprock] is developing an artificial heart he calls Steel Heart. It’s an artificial heart powered by electromagnets and ferrofluids.

The idea behind [Chris]’ artificial heart is ingenious in its simplicity. An elastic membrane is stretched across a frame and a magnetic liquid (or ferrofluid, if you prefer) is poured across the membrane. An electromagnet is activated and the membrane stretches out, simulating the beating of a heart. Put a few of these together and you’ve got a compact, biologically inert pump that’s perfect for replacing an aging ticker.

[Chris]’ plan to use ferrofluids and electromagnets as an artificial heart give us pause to actually think about what he’s done here. Previously, artificial hearts used either pneumatics or motors to pump blood throughout the body. Pneumatic pumps required plastic tubes coming out of the body – not a satisfactory long-term solution. Motor-driven pumps can rupture red blood cells leading to hemolysis. Using ferrofluids and an elastic membrane allows for the best of both worlds – undamaged blood cells and transdermal induction charging.

Not only is [Chris] designing a freaking artificial heart, he also came up with a useful application of ferrofluids. We were nearly ready to write off magnetic particles suspended in a liquid as a cool science toy or artistic inspiration. You can check out [Chris]’ indiegogo video with a demo of the ferrofluid pump in action after the break.

Continue reading “Building an artificial heart with ferrofluids”

Build your own CT scanner

[Linas] built himself an x-ray generator for a scholarship contest. We assume this wasn’t enough of a challenge for [Linas] because after the x-ray generator was done, he used his project to model objects in 3D (Google Translate link). It’s an amazing build, leaving us feeling sorry for the guy that came in second place to the home-made CT scanner.

The theory behind a CT scanner is fairly simple – take a series of x-rays of an object around an axis of rotation. From there, it’s a fairly simple matter to digitize the x-ray images to produce a 3D model. The hard part is building the x-ray generator. [Linas] used directional x-ray tubes, a few power supplies and from what we can gather x-ray film instead of a CCD sensor. The film was scanned into a computer and reassembled to get a 3D image.

[Linas] doesn’t seem too keen on giving away the schematics for his build to any old joker on the Internet because of the high voltage and radiation components of his build. Still, it’s an amazing build.

Check out the YouTube demo of [Linas]’s CT scanner imaging an old computer mouse and a reconstruction of the same data done in MATLAB after the break.

Continue reading “Build your own CT scanner”

Tiny medical bot

blood-robot-8gwd4

This tiny bot wants to go inside your body. That’s right, it was designed to travel through veins. The little bot has no on board propulsion system. It is controlled by a magnet outside the body. See those little spines? Those straighten out to keep the bot in place when it isn’t supposed to move.  Creepy right? In all the articles we’ve seen on this bot, there aren’t any details about what actually is on board. They mention adding a camera in the near future, but why are they calling it a robot? Surely there’s something cool in that little body. This is a quite practical application of a project we covered recently. Commenters weren’t impressed with the external control system, likening it to the old vibrating football player game. Well, here’s where it could be usefull.

Remote controlled pill-bot


The NanoRobotics Lab at Carnegie Mellon University has come up with a medical robot that can be swallowed, and is then able to be controlled from outside the body. The device has small arms with adhesives that can attach to slippery internal surfaces, which has previously proven difficult. Once inside the body, it can be used to view damaged areas, deliver drugs, as well as biopsy questionable tissues, and possibly even be used to cauterize bleeding wounds with a small laser. The device could be stopped, and even reversed to get a better look at areas that may have gone unnoticed otherwise. This would be a major advancement in diagnosing intestinal problems, and could lead to potentially life saving treatments. Did we mention that it has lasers?

[via Neatorama]

DIY kidney machine saves girl


When the tool you need doesn’t exist, you must make one. That’s exactly what [Dr. Malcolm Coulthard] and kidney nurse [Jean Crosier] from Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary did two years ago.

When a baby too small for the regular dialysis machine (similar to the one pictured above) needed help after her kidneys failed, the kind doctor designed and built a smaller version of the machine in his garage, then used it to save six-pound baby Millie Kelly’s life. Since then the machine has continued to be used in similar emergency situations.

[Photo: NomadicEntrepreneur]

Creeping wave antenna


Monitoring medical patients remotely 24 hours a day has always proven to be a difficult proposition due the size of the wireless sensors attached to the patient’s body to relay vital signs. A team from Queen’s University Belfast has come up with a solution that utilizes the creeping wave effect. The effect applies to electromagnetic waves as they come into contact with solid objects. While the majority of the waves are absorbed by the object, a small amount move along the surface of the object before they continue their path.

Since most of the signal sent by conventional biosensors is absorbed by the patient’s body, the signal must be strong enough to compensate. The antennas designed by the Queen’s University team, though, focus their broadcast laterally instead of inward and outward, maximizing the amount of waves that will travel along patients’ bodies via the creeping wave effect and minimizing the amount that are absorbed. These antennas are up to 50 times as efficient as conventional antennas of the same size, broadcasting a stronger signal with less power.

The applications to the wireless body area networking, attaching multiple biosensors to patients’ bodies, field are obvious, but this technology could be used in other ways. Since the creeping wave antenna is small and wearable, it could conceivably be used to boost low power communication to PDAs, cellphones, or any other portable wireless product.

[via Medgadget]