As the miniaturisation of cameras continues apace, more and more innovative products are thrown up, such as this pill camera. Basically a lens on a piece of string (isn't that something that Hell's Angels like to do involving string, bacon and laydeez, and goes by the name of Wolfbagging?), the technology costs just US$300—far less than a US$5,000 endoscope. Developed at the University of Washington, the only person who has tried it out so far is research associate professor Eric Siebel.
"Never in your life have you ever swallowed anything and it's still sticking out of your mouth, but once you do it, it's easy," he said of the device. It consists of seven fiber optic cables in a capsule about the size of a painkiller, with a 1.4mm tether that allows the doctor to move the camera around and pull it back up once the exploration is finished.
Testing starts at the Seattle Veterans' Administration hospital next year. Once given the thumbs-up, the reusable gadget (disinfect, rinse, repeat, I guess) is expected to be used in the fight against oesophagal cancer. Normal endoscopes are considerably bigger and can only be swallowed after the patient has been sedated (and liberally greased up, probably).