The use of these self-contained endoscopy pills--which contain a micro camera and memory--is fairly common already. But the “Mermaid” is the first device that can go through a digestive track on its own power rather than riding on natural muscle contractions.
The Mermaid can “swim” thanks to a tail fin shaped magnetic driving gear that allows it to move like a tadpole. Doctors can pilot the endoscopic tool with a joystick while watching its progress on a monitor as it captures two images per second. So far the lap record for the entire intestinal track is a few hours where as a traditional pill would take 10 hours.
Thankfully the tail does not add much girth to the pill--it’s still the same 1-centimeter diameter--but the tail does double the usual length to 4.5-centimeters. The pill can still be taken orally or inserted through the other end, just like the old one.
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