Ingestible device

A new kind of smart tablet

We get lots of strange calls at Snepo. We’re known for taking on challenging projects and this was no exception. Chris Koch, CEO of the start-up Pop! wanted to swallow a computer as part of a bizarre contest to draw attention to his new business. Pop!. This is the first known time a competition has been run inside someone’s stomach.

To kick-off the project, Snepo dove straight into a research phase to determine the maximum size, material specifications and intended functionality. Testing was critical although in the early stage we worked with a pig’s carcass to ensure bluetooth connectivity and the like. After designing the electronics and housing we also worked with partners to produce the tablet. The Pop! pill houses a system on a chip (SOC) by RFdigital that includes a Bluetooth low energy component and a processor. We added 32MB of memory and additional electronics to extend its battery life. The pill-like device uses an Arduino controller and is encased in polyurethane, a material that is sometimes used to make feeding tubes and other medical products, but is not affected by stomach acid.

On 20th October 2014, Chris Koch ate the device, which is 35 by 18 mm (bigger than any multi-vitamin). Contestant's data was sent to the tablet inside Koch, who was being watched on a live stream as the tablet made its way through his system. The stunt demonstrated that it’s possible to send secure personal data anywhere via the Pop! app, even to inside someone’s stomach.