Smart Pill that Protects Athletes from Overheating to Be Trialed in Doha

Smart pill monitors heat exhaustion
Image: Pixabay

At the World Athletics Championships in Doha in September, athletes will be offered an electronic pill that is designed to help protect them from heat exhaustion. Temperature in the capital of Qatar can reach up to 104F (40C).

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The capsule, which will track the bodily temperature, has been pioneered to tackle fears over the effects of extreme heat in endurance events at the Tokyo Olympics next year, reports Robert Dineen in The Telegraph.

The smart pill was developed by Yannis Pitsiladis, Professor of Sport and Exercise Science in the University of Brighton. The pill uses numerous sensors such as a tiny capsule containing an electronic chip which relays information on how an athlete’s body is coping with high temperatures during a race.

Each capsule weighs less than 2 grams and is no bigger than a regular medical pill but it contains no drugs. It is perfectly safe and needs to be taken a few hours before their event.

“Several national federations have trialed the pill already and results have been good,” a source at the International Association of Athletics Federations told The Telegraph. “It is perfectly safe. There is no drug inside the pill. It is just an electronic chip that will be activated during the race.”

Smart electronic pill
The smart pill is no bigger than a regular medical pill (Image: electRx)

Medical staff would be alerted if a competitor’s readings were indicating signs of heat stress or hyperthermia and the athlete could be withdrawn. This technology can also help provide more rapid, precise and imposing temperature assessment during emergencies on the highway.

Competitors, who will be given the option of taking part in the experiment, will need to take the pill a few hours before their event. Its sensory technology will then relay information on their biological markers during a race.

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Officials hope that the results of this research will help long-distance athletes to prepare for conditions in Tokyo.

In a separate effort, a pill is being developed which by the time of the Olympics could measure temperature in real time, which means athletes could potentially be pulled out of an event if considered at risk of hyperthermia.