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Self-propelled gut camera swims in your colon

The Mermaid is a remote-controlled, self-propelled camera that can swim inside your guts to help doctors check for abnormalities.

Ryukoku University

If you have to get your insides examined, there are few alternatives to the unpleasant experience of having a tube shoved into your throat or backside.

But a team of researchers in Japan recently successfully tested a remote-controlled, self-propelled capsule camera that can examine the human stomach and colon.

Developed by researchers at Ryukoku University, Osaka Medical College, and a private-sector firm, the fish-shaped Mermaid is a 1.7-inch-long, electromagnet-powered capsule with a fin-like tail.

That's longer than a conventional endoscopy capsule, which isn't maneuverable and takes a brute-force approach to capturing images, snapping as many as possible as it descends.

The Mermaid can be precisely maneuvered following oral or rectal insertion, and can take two images per second.

German researchers previously managed to remotely control an endoscope capsule in the stomachs of healthy volunteers. The Japanese team, however, claims to be the first to have moved a remote-controlled capsule inside the colon and captured images there.

The team believes the device could be used to image the entire digestive tract, including the small intestine.

Naotake Otsuka, professor emeritus at Ryukoku University's Faculty of Science and Technology, said he tested the Mermaid himself and had no problems swallowing it.

Now open wide and say "ahhh."

(Via Mainichi Daily News)