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Ingestible LifeMonitor pill warns firefighters that risk succumbing to heat stress

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Fireman shutterstock
Fireman shutterstock

A new data-transmitting pill could save the lives of firefighters by providing a warning when their vitals are showing signs of heat stress. Researchers in Australia gave the Equivital EQ02 LifeMonitor pill to 50 firefighters during a rescue training exercise and monitored their core body temperature . That information is delivered to a device on each firefighter's chest (which itself tracks skin temperature and heart / respiratory rates) and then sent to an external computer a safe distance from the blaze.

If any of those vitals were increasing at an alarming rate, the system would theoretically allow individual firefighters to be pulled out and given time to rest up — avoiding serious risks like unconsciousness and even cardiac arrest. It's an extra safeguard for brave firefighters so often fueled by adrenaline during their inherently-dangerous work, and one which offers greater accuracy over current methods that measure temperature through the ear. Research utilizing the pill is set to continue in the months ahead as experts look to see how it responds to various temperatures. Interestingly, Felix Baumgarter swallowed the LifeMonitor pill before his unforgettable supersonic free fall, giving his team on the ground a way to track his health throughout the 128,000-foot dive.