Firefighters run into flaming buildings for a living, It's not exactly what you might call a safe job. And while they can tell generally how they're doing by noting whether or not they are on fire at any given time, there's a lot more nuance to keeping track of other aspects of their health. That's where data delivery pills come in.
In a trial executed in Australia, 50 firefighters got dressed up in their normal protective gear but took one extra precaution: they each swallowed a little computer-in-a-pill transmitter—the Equivital EQ02 Life Monitor—that would keep track of their internal temperature and beam it back out for monitoring. The pills kept track of skin temperature, heart and respiration rates, and core body temperature, and beamed all that info out to an external computer. The idea is that if any of those readings spike too quickly, the firefighter in question can be pulled for a literal "cool-down" before anything bad happens.
Because of the amount of adrenaline in the their systems and all kinds of other distractions, firefighters are very vulnerable to heat stress, dehydration, collapse, and even cardiac arrest if they aren't careful, and it helps to have hard data and someone on the outside looking out for them. It's especially important in Australia, where temperatures are soaring to new heights, even when there isn't any fire around.
After all is said and done, the pills are...expelled through perfectly normally bodily functions and then hopefully never ever ever ever ever used again. This is not the place for recycling. The pills performed well in the trial, so they might not be uncommon in the future, for firefighters and for other people who need their vitals closely monitored for whatever reason. Talk about a technology that's easy to swallow. [PopSci via DVICE]