A Fitness Tracker You Can Swallow? The Rise Of ‘Smart Pills’

Fitness trackers are not exactly a new trend. In fact, two different 2014 reports found that one in five Americans own one.

But a fitness tracker that you can swallow? Well, believe it or not, Jawbone CEO Hosain Rahman says the next wave of fitness trackers will be ingestible, Shape reports.

Late last week Rahman made an appearance at the 2015 Code/Mobile conference, where he spoke about the public being able to swallow their fitness trackers instead of wearing them in the near future.

Hosain Rahman, founder of Jawbone speaking to Leena Rao.

This might sound pretty invasive, but, according to Rahman, the need exists because, while people may own fitness trackers, only about half actually wear them. In fact, those same 2014 studies that said one in five own trackers concluded that only one in 10 actually use them.

“The first thing you have to crack though is actually getting people to wear [the tracker]. If you can keep it on all the time, the amount of information you get about the user is staggering.”

In addition to users not having to remember to wear their fitness devices, the production of the ingestible tracker, which Rahman says is only in a conceptual stage at the moment, would stomp out any ability to cheat.

Although the newly proposed tracker is still in the earliest stages of development, Rahman could say that there would be two types available.

One type would only “pass through” your system, but would be able to give pictures of everything from your digestive system to your heart rate and oxygen levels. The other type would be more long-term, indefinitely living in the bloodstream. This version, in addition to traditional fitness information, could potentially provide information on a person’s gut bacteria make-up, blood alcohol level, and even hunger hormone levels.

At present, the only wearable fitness bands that even come close to measuring these types of body functions are the Jawbone UP3 and the InBody Band, developed in South Korea.

InBody Fitness Tracker display.

Although these bands do exist, Rahman believes that the ingestible fitness tracker is inevitable, but also highly beneficial. He vividly described to the conference audience the future as he sees it, a future where your fitness tracker is able to sync up with all of the tech devices in your life.

Rahman gave examples of a monitor in your bloodstream being capable of controlling your thermostat based on your body temperature, or being able to shut off your car, or dim your lights.

“We can tell your thermostat your hot because your sick, you went for a run, or it’s hot outside. I can tell your car your blood alcohol level is too high, shut the car off, it won’t let you drive….the potential is staggering.”

Rahman’s described future would take the ingestibles far beyond simple fitness tracking. However, Jawbone is not the only company working on a pill of this kind. According to Fortune, Google announced the development of a “robotic” pill capable of detecting cancer and other diseases.

And in case you were wondering how safe the ingestibles would be, these fitness/health trackers would not be the first “smart pill” developed. Two ingestible sensors have already been approved by the FDA for human use. The Proteus Ingestible Sensor is used to monitor the amounts of medicine being absorbed by the body, and the PillCam COLON is a pill used during colonoscopies that takes photos and videos while passing through the digestive system.

Rahman says the goal of these “smart pills” is to drastically improve people’s health.

“The ultimate goal is to help people live longer, live healthier, have lower medical costs—and that’s the holy grail.”

[Photo Courtesy of LiliGraphie/Shutterstock]