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IMAGE: This is MIT professor Dina Katabi. view more 

Credit: Simon Simard

Medical processes like imaging often require cutting someone open or making them swallow huge tubes with cameras on them. But what if could get the same results with methods that are less expensive, invasive and time-consuming?

Researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) led by professor Dina Katabi are working on exactly that with ReMix, a system that they describe as an “in-body GPS.” ReMix can pinpoint the location of ingestible implants inside the body using low-power wireless signals. In animal tests the team demonstrated that they can track implants with centimeter-level accuracy, and said that one day similar implants could be used to deliver drugs to specific regions in the body.

To test ReMix, Katabi’s group first implanted a small marker in animal tissues. To track its movement, they used a wireless device that reflects radio signals at the patient, and a special algorithm to pinpoint the exact location of the marker. The team used a wireless technology that they’ve previously demonstrated to detect heart rate, breathing and movement.

Interestingly, the marker inside the body does not need to transmit any wireless signal.

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