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Fight jet lag: 'Digital pill' tells cabin crew what you need

Fasten your seatbelt, return your tray table to its full upright position and swallow a sensor-packed smart pill for a smoother flight.

An aeroplane of a bygone era.
Dean Conger/Corbis/Getty Images

When your ears pop on a plane, you can find relief by swallowing. Now a major airline reckons swallowing could fight jet lag, too, thanks to a sensor-packed digital pill.

British Airways has filed a patent application for a smart pill that records how you're feeling. Sensors measure your temperature, stomach acidity and heart rate as well as how much you're moving and which sleep phase you're in -- or even if you're nervous. Cabin crew could then respond to your needs as required, for example by bringing you a blanket if you're cold or holding off serving a meal if you're fast asleep.

The ingestible digital pill is just one of a proposed system of sensors that combat jet lag by controlling the passenger's environment, including sleep and eating patterns. The system could connect to your phone and to mobile devices used by crew.

Ingestible sensors have been in use for a few years now, with pharmaceuticals company such as Proteus leading the way. The coating of the smart pill dissolves in stomach acid to power a tiny chip that relays data to a patch on your skin before passing harmlessly from your body. There's even research into ingestible pill cameras that record images inside your body.

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