Miniature Transmitter Tracks Pill Usage

This isn't an April Fool's story--researchers at the University of Florida have developed a microchip and antenna that fits inside a standard pill capsule.

When swallowed, the pill communicates with a small electronic device carried or worn by the patient. That device then communicates with a cell phone or laptop to let doctors or others monitoring "medication compliance" know the patient has taken their medication.

The University of Florida researchers had to develop an antenna that was biodegradable. The one they came up with uses lines of silver on the capsule. I found a picture of the miniature dipole antenna on the University's research web page.

The research is part of National Science Foundation project CAREER: Ultra Low Power Passive Microsystems for Medication Compliance Monitoring.

The research abstract lists goals including the need "[to] characterize voltage multipliers to determine fundamental tradeoffs in input voltage, leakage, reliability and efficiency for RF scavenging" and "[to] develop on-chip multi-resonant passive structures that will lead to amplifier integration and isolation."

There is no mention of the frequencies being used with these devices, but the small antenna size, even with the zigzag linear loading shown in picture, would appear to limit them to frequencies above 1 GHz.

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack.
A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.