Australian researchers from Melbourne’s RMIT University and Monash University have developed a new high-tech ‘gas sensing’ capsule that can send data from inside your gut direct to your mobile phone.

With estimates showing nearly 50 per cent of Aussies experience stomach issues each year, the new capsule opens up a range of possibilities for the diagnosis, analysis and detection of gut-oriented diseases.

The technology measures the concentration of selected intestinal gases through an easy to swallow capsule with a built-in gas sensor, microprocessor and wireless, high-frequency transmitter.

The capsule works by absorbing intestinal gases, and then produces a signal that transmits data to a receiver outside of the body.

According to lead investigator, Professor Kourosh Kalantar-Zadeh from RMIT’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, this capsule technology could be a simple tool used to tailor diets to the individual and to improve digestive health.

“We know gut microorganisms produce gases as a by-product of their metabolism, but we understand very little about how that affects our health,” said Prof Kalantar-Zadeh.

“Being able to accurately measure intestinal gases could accelerate our knowledge about how specific gut microorganisms contribute to gastrointestinal disorders and food intake efficiency, enabling the development of new diagnostic techniques and treatments.”

The new technology will help people to monitor their personal health and discover which foods irritate their digestive system.

“Further research is needed to assess the long-term performance of these techniques and test the efficacy of the gas capsules in human trials,” Professor Kalantar-Zadeh said.

Animal trials have demonstrated the effectiveness and safety of the capsules, which transmit the data as they move through the gut to a hand-held device, such a mobile phone, before passing out of the body.

The CSIRO has developed similar capsules used to monitor methane production from sheep and cows. However, the RMIT and Monash research is the first to focus on capsules tailored for human use.

Researchers from RMIT’s MicroNana Research Facility and Monash discussed the new technology in a March 12, 2015 article published in Trends